Teeny Cowart was an effortless hostess and committed to making life better for children and the needy. Strangers showed up at her door suitcases in hand needing bed and board. In the 1950s working African- American mothers needed day care for their children. Trinity United Methodist Church needed a kindergarten director. Mrs. Cowart stepped up and met every need.
A Naylor native and longtime resident of Savannah, Ruby Ernestine (Teeny) Carter Cowart, 96, of Valdosta, died on October 6, 2016. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. at the Carson McLane Funeral Home Chapel. The family will receive friends on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. at the funeral home. The graveside service in Savannah's Greenwich Cemetery section of Bonaventure Cemetery will be held when hurricane Matthew clean-up is completed.
Mrs. Cowart grew up in her grandmother's Naylor boarding house, and there began her hostess skills. It was at her grandmother's side in the 1920s and '30s that Mrs. Cowart learned traditional Southern cooking that she excelled at throughout her life. And there she became known as Teeny, a derivative of her middle name.
She was the kind of cook who could put together whatever was in her kitchen and turn out a tasty meal. It might be for her canasta group, a party of friends, or whoever happened to be in her house at the time. Her lemon pie was a particular favorite, and the centerpieces she created from her garden were admired.
Mrs. Cowart was unflappable. Once, a friend deposited two women with suitcases at her front door. Mrs. Cowart had no idea who they were or why they were there. She invited them in, offered them iced tea, and chatted with them long enough to realize they were in town for a United Methodist Women's meeting. She forgot that months earlier she had volunteered to house two attendees. She carried it off smoothly and her houseguests were none the wiser.
She was always up for anything. When her husband, the late E.L. Cowart, had a business commitment in San Francisco, she pulled her children out of school, loaded up their 1954 Ford, and set out across the country. She wanted the family to enjoy the four-week trip together, though her children did have school lessons they had to complete while traveling.
Mrs. Cowart's puttering around her kitchen, reading, gardening, and sewing didn't interfere with her civic commitments. In the 1950s she was involved in Savannah's Bethlehem Center which provided day care for the children of African-American working women. Over time in Savannah, she directed Trinity United Methodist Church's kindergarten program, was church secretary, and later church visitor to newcomers, shut-ins, the sick and needy. She was an active member of the P.E. O. sisterhood.
Her parents were George Ernest Carter, who died six months before she was born, and Ruby Rebecca Moore Carter, who died when she was 8. Mrs. Cowart and her brother, the late George Franklin Carter, were reared by their grandmothers, Mary Jane Moore who ran the boarding house, and Ella Eugenia DeLoach Carter, who taught them to play cards which Mrs. Moore did not allow.
Survivors include a daughter, Linda Cowart Tout of Waynesville, NC, and her husband Reverend C. Thomas Tout, a son, Elton LaGrange Cowart, Jr. of Valdosta and his wife, Priscilla Harms Cowart; four grandchildren, Lara Rebecca Tout Langford of Suwanee, Timothy Jay Cowart of Corbett, OR, James Mattingly Tout of Cumming, and Mark Spencer Cowart of Valdosta; and 10 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in Teeny Cowart's memory be made to Trinity United Methodist Church Historic Fund, 225 West President Street, Savannah, GA 31401, or online at http://trinity1848.org/. Condolences may be conveyed online at www.mclanecares.com
Carson McLane Funeral Home
2215 North Patterson Street