James and Phillipa Montag Fund

James Lee Montag was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 25, 1936, the son of Louis A. Montag and Jane Rich Myers Montag of Savannah. Jim attended local schools in Atlanta, before graduating in 1954 from Lawrenceville High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He matriculated at Yale University and graduated from Emory University in 1958 with an economics major. Jim got his first job in the retail industry at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta.

In 1960 Jim married Ethel Straus from Louisville, Kentucky. They had two children, James Lee Montag, Jr., and Emily Jane Montag Vaughan. He has two grandchildren, Rachel Lynn Vaughan, and Shelby Jane Vaughan.

After serving in the military, Jim moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1963 and opened his first Casual Corner ladies’ store. In 1968 he and his wife became sole owners of Casual Corner of North Carolina. More than twenty years later they sold thirteen Casual Corner stores to a publicly owned company. Jim then operated Montag Management Company, a financial advisory firm in Charlotte, for fifteen years until he merged his company with a local financial firm.

During his years in Charlotte Jim served as President of the Merchants Association at Southpark Mall, president of the Yale Club, and was an officer of Temple Beth El and the Charlotte Jewish Federation and Secretary of Casual Corner Associates of America. He also served as an officer of Southpark Rotary, treasurer of the Mecklenburg Republican Party, and served on the board of Park Meridian Bank.

In 2007 Jim and Ethel retired to Hilton Head, South Carolina. There Jim joined SCORE, an organization of retired executives helping small businesses. He also joined the Hilton Head Rotary Club and Temple Beth Yam.

In 2011 Ethel died of cancer after 52 years of marriage. Jim continued to live in Hilton Head and in 2013 married Phillipa (Bunny) Sherman of Savannah.

Phillipa Kay Sherman (Bunny) was born on February 11, 1940, at Telfair Hospital in Savannah, the second daughter of Myer and Miriam (Mickey) Tanenbaum Sherman. Bunny grew up in Ardsley Park and attended Charles Ellis Elementary School and Washington Avenue Jr. High before graduating from Savannah High School. She graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a BS in Elementary Education and a minor in Library Science.

Bunny married Ronald H. Cohen of Alma, Georgia, in 1958. They were married 33 years and had three children, Rodney Scott Cohen, MD, Rebecca Paula Cohen Jacobson, and Matthew Aaron Cohen. She has three grandchildren, Alexander Charles Cohen, Jacob Harris Cohen, and Hanna Elaine Jacobson.

Bunny taught third grade for the Chatham County Board of Education and the Savannah Hebrew Day School in the 1960s. She has been actively involved in many Savannah religious, cultural, and civic organizations. She served on the boards of Senior Citizens, Inc., Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences Gala, Historic Savannah Foundation Georgia Day, Savannah Music Festival, Savannah Jewish Federation, Agudath Achim Synagogue, Savannah Jewish Archives. She served as Chair of the Savannah Jewish Federation Women’s Campaign and as President of Sisterhood Congregation Mickve Israel. She is an avid tennis player and was a member of the inaugural Thursday Ladies Savannah Citywide Team Tennis League for over 25 years. Bunny is a former member of the National Board of Realtors and owner of Bunny Cohen’s Paper Factory. She is also the author of Pigtails and Bunny Tales: Lifetime Memories of a Savannah Girl, and Pigtails Two: Poems for You.

Jim and Bunny moved to the Landings at Skidaway Island in 2019 and continue to support many of Savannah’s civic, cultural, philanthropic, and religious organizations, including the Georgia Historical Society, the Telfair Museum, the Savannah Music Festival, Savannah Voice Festival, the Savannah Philharmonic, the Savannah Jewish Federation, the Jewish Educational Alliance, Congregation Agudath Achim, Congregation Mickve Israel, the Lucas Theater for the Arts, the Live Oak Public Library, Senior Citizens, Inc., and the Downtown Savannah Rotary.

Bunny and Jim’s families have been in Savannah since the 1800s. Jim’s family has for many years been a contributor to the communities in which they live. His father Louis founded Montag and Caldwell, the first investment counsel firm in the South, and his grandfather Adolf was one of the founders of the Montag Paper Company in Atlanta, a well-known supply and stationery manufacturer. His mother Jane was the granddaughter of Morris Rich, the founder of Rich’s department store in Atlanta, now part of the Macy’s chain.

Jim and Bunny established the James and Phillipa Montag Fund at the Georgia Historical Society in 2021, ensuring that their commitment to Georgia history will continue in perpetuity.