CHEF LEAH LANGE CHASE – CELEBRATION OF LIFE SERVICE


ladies and gentlemen we are going to be
delayed about 15 minutes there was a power surge that we have to take care of
soon as that’s fixed we’ll get started about 10 minutes you you you test tes justice may I have your attention please we’re
going to begin we ask that you please stand as we welcome the officiants to
come forward the Most Reverend Gregory Aymond
will lead from here Archbishop let us pray loving and faithful God you
are indeed our Creator the father of all people and you give us life before we
were born you breathed your life into us and you called us your own by name today
we gather as a family of faith to thank you for breathing your life in
her and for calling her your daughter we thank you today for the gifts that you
gave to her for her family for the lives and the hearts that she touched Lord we
thank you because she was indeed a woman of faith and she lived and believed in
you we ask now that she has finished this earthly journey that you give her
the fullness of eternal life as she knew you on earth
may she now see you face to face in your kingdom may she pray for us and remain
with us in spirit may her love and example her life in her faith and
courage us may she draw us closer to you and give us the strength to be bold in
living our faith and Lord we ask you to give comfort to all those who mourn
especially her family friends co-workers in this community may they know your
consolation and your peace and we ask this in the name of the risen Lord who
is the Christ living and reigning forever and ever from the book of st. James chapter
number 2 beginning at verse number 14 hear ye the word of the Lord what does
it profit my brother and though a man say had faith and had not works can
faith save him if a brother a sister be naked and destitute of daily food and
one of you say unto Him depart in peace be warmed and filled notwithstanding you
give them not those things which are needful to the body what doth it profit
even so faith if it had not works is dead being alone
yeh a man may say thou has faith and I have works show me thy faith without thy
works and I will show thee my faith by my works thou believe it that there is
one God I’ll do it well the devil’s also believe in trimble but will thou know o
vain man that faith without works is dead
was not Abraham our Father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son
upon the altar season thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was
faith made perfect and the scripture was fulfilled which saith abraham believed
God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness and he was called the
friend of God you see then how that by works a man is
justified and not by faith only likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified
by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another
way for as the body without the spirit is dead so faith without works is dead
also receiving the word of the Lord from Jesus Sermon on the Mount Matthew
chapter 5 beginning at verse 1 and seeing the multitudes he went up into a
mountain and when he was said his disciples came unto Him in open his
mouth and taught them saying blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted
blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth
blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they
shall be filled blessed are the merciful for they shall
obtain mercy blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God
blessed are the peacemakers for this shall be called the children of God
blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake rejoice and be
exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven
thus say is the word of God No then why can’t it be everlasting like
the Sun that always shines like the poet’s in this ride like the galaxies
and time never like the D that never fails making sure we dress in style posing
pictures with us my keeping danger from a child if it’s magic why can’t we make it
everlasting and the church says Amen God is good and
all the time sometimes we ask others do you think I can read your mind in your
heart well I don’t really think we can read anyone else’s mind but may I
suggest that we can read the heart of another because what is in the heart
becomes words it becomes actions it becomes what we courageously stand for
and what we are daily communicated to that which is in our heart becomes
visible my sisters and brothers as we gather this evening there is no doubt
that we can read what was in Lea’s heart deep deep deep in her heart she knew
that she was the beloved daughter of God and that it was God who gave her life
and breathed his life into her not just human life but his own life for her and
yes she knew very well that our God said love me with all your heart and mind and
soul and strength but she knew that God asked that of her only because he loved
her first amen yes she was a great woman of faith and she truly belonged to Jesus
she lived that faith and that faith was evident in her words and her actions and
her attitudes and in her values we come here this evening because we are
grateful to God for her life and that in some way her life has touched each and
every one of us she lived to faithfully her vocation as a wife and as a mother
and she was that – Stella – Edgar – Leah and – all of the extended family she was
very proud to be a grandmother and a great-grandmother her heart embraced
fully her parents her sisters her brother nieces and nephews friends
co-workers and all those who in somehow came into her life yes she was a woman
of family and a woman of faith we also know that her love extended beyond her
immediate family and even the family of the restaurant she saw as an important
part of her life that it was necessary to feed others which she did so well and
became the queen of Creole cuisine on a personal note and going to the
restaurant I always knew that I would receive excellent food but there was
something else that was even greater than the food and that was her warmth
and her personality to be able to observe her as a gentle woman to hear
her speak her love for life and love for others all of this rooted in faith she
knew that God had fed her so she needed to feed others in order to share that
gift yes she knew the Lord Jesus unlike Jesus she didn’t multiply loaves and
fish but she certainly fed others not just with food but with her warmth and
personality how did God feed her she was a woman of Prayer for her Sunday Mass
was of utmost importance and she carried the Lord Jesus with her in her daily
life also she was a woman of faith and she took that faith into action she was
willing to stand for the values of Jesus and civil rights and she did so in a
bold and courageous way she believed in the dignity of every
person and she spoke of equal rights of all of God’s children yes Leah too had a
dream that all people would know peace that would we would be able to look
beyond the color of skin and our differences and to be the children of
God to be a family of God yes that was her dream and she lived that dream amen
as we know the restaurant was a meeting place to talk about God’s dream and the
Equality of all people and it became a sacred place and is a sacred place in
our community we see it as a place of peace and a place of reconciliation we
just heard a few moments ago from the letter of James he says what good is it
to profess faith if we don’t live that faith to see someone in need and not to
do anything is not really living a life of faith as we gather here this evening
we know that Leah reminds us that what we believe in what we profess with our
lips we must bring into action she did that and her example challenges us to do
precisely that to live our faith that it’s not just from our lips but it’s
from our heart we just heard a few moments ago the Beatitudes the
Beatitudes are what you and I must do in order to truly be the disciples of the
Lord Jesus we must be poor in spirit and know that we need God we must be able to
show mercy to be peacemakers to stand for the truth to endure insult for the
sake of Christ and we see these values lived out in a very extraordinary way in
Leah’s life yes we are invited and challenged by her example by her words
but mostly by her actions to live the Beatitudes this evening and on Monday we
will remember her earthly life and we will bid our earthly farewell to
her and commend her to the Lord’s Kingdom my sisters and brothers her
death and her life reminds us of the meaning of human life as Jesus sat a
table with his disciples he says I will go and prepare a place for you and we’ll
take you with me they didn’t understand that but he went on to say that I will
come back and take you with me because I will prepare a place for you in the
father’s Kingdom he reminds us that we are called to share in his life now and
after our death we also see Jesus crying at the tomb of Lazarus his friend and in
that sacred moment he told us what death really is he says I am the resurrection
and the life whoever lives and believes in Me will never die and though they die
will come to life in my kingdom yes for us as believers as people of faith we
believe we trust that death is a passing over from this life to the next it’s a
passing over from death into a new life from this world to the place where we
are called to be at home and so my sisters and brothers Leah reminds us
that we must live this life with faith and fidelity we must live every moment I
believe that Leah was truly ready to go home to the Lord’s Kingdom I think we
saw that in her daily life and she reminds us that you and I must be ready
to each day that we should not wait for tomorrow to say I love you I’m sorry
I made a mistake I should have done better she reminds us to live in the
moment and to always have a heart that is filled with love and ready for the
Lord to come and take us and so my sisters and brothers we gather this
evening because we believe in the resurrection of Christ
we believe that the Lord God has prepared a place for us and tonight in a
special way for Leah in his kingdom we thank God for her life for her faith and
for her example the way in which she directs us yes we were able to read her
heart in life maybe not her mind but her heart and we still can read her heart in
death we believe that Leah is still with us in a new way she will continue to
live in our hearts she lives in this gathering she will live in the ways in
which we remember her and she tells us in our daily life we ought to pray we
ought to work and we ought to do for others no complaints and no regrets I still
believe in chasing dreams and placing bets and I have learned that all you
give is all you get so give it all you’ve got I’ve had my share and drank my field and
even though I am satisfied well I’m hungry still to learn what’s down
another road beyond the hill and do it all again so here’s to life and every joy breathe here’s to life to dreamers and their
June funny how the time just flies
how love can go from warm hellos to said goodbye and leave you with the memory you memorize
to keep your winters but there’s no yes in yesterday and who knows what tomorrow brings our
takes away as long as I’m in the game I wanna play for laughs for life so here’s to live and every joy every to life to dreamers and their journey may all your storms be weathered in all
that school get better here’s to life you still I used to you may all your storms be weather and all
that’s good get better is to lie here’s the Lea here’s the love years to you god bless you ladies and gentlemen the
Jordan family will also acknowledge mr. John boutté who gave a rendition before
them we want to thank our officiants the Most Reverend
Archbishop Eamon fatherís sorry Pastor Fred Luter and Bishop Tom Martin and I’m Bill Roussel I have the honor of introducing a group of people to share
their reflections on their chase we had the honor of helping us celebrate her
90th birthday our 95th birthday and when we got the call that Saturday that we
would be asked to honor a life well-lived
we knew that we weren’t ready she may have been ready to go leave us but we
weren’t ready for her to leave we spent quite a week the outpouring of love and
affection in this community has been phenomenal and I know the family thanks
everyone the tens of thousands of people who have
shared with them their love for mrs. chase we know that she’s in a better
place and we do want to thank some people particularly Xavier University
for giving us the opportunity to be in this wonderful convocation center when
we called they said absolutely yes we’re going to do it we do believe that we
needed a big place because mrs. chase was a public person she wanted people to
experience this she shared that with her family and we’re going to be very public
in our celebration of her life the people are going to come before you
today are just a drop in the ocean of the people who have leer chase stories everybody who dined at the restaurant
and had an opportunity to share with her has a leer chase story but we couldn’t
get everybody to speak at the same time so I’m sure that on Twitter and Facebook
and all those other places people are expressing themselves I see it all the
time and tonight we’re just going to share a few reflections on a phenomenal
woman I’d like to first bring forward our representative in Congress he’s got
a tough job but he come to Dickies and I’m sure get a lot of good advice please
welcome congressman Cedric Richmond this is the day the Lord hath made let
us be glad and rejoice in it and I thought of those words because today is
a Lifetime Achievement Award today is a day for me to recognize one woman who
changed the course of our nation one woman who had the courage to act and we
heard all of our ministers say earlier that faith without works is dead and
another way to say that is that the Lord will order your steps but you have to
move your feet and miss chase moved her feet but for miss chase I would not be
in the United States Congress the world and the country would not be what we
have when I thought about her today and I was driving to a funeral in Baton
Rouge and I was listening to some music and my favorite song came on when I
think about funerals and it’s I’m going up yonder and I just wanted to read a
portion of it it says I can take the pain the heartaches they bring the
comfort in knowing I’ll soon be gone as God gives me grace I’ll run this race
until I see my Savior face to face I’m going up yonder to be with my lord we’re
so grateful that miss chase ran that race we’re so grateful that the Lord
gave her the grace to do it but let me just take a moment to share one or two
small personal stories because I would go to the restaurant as
a young elected official who thought that I was all that and a bag of chips
sort of like Mitch and Mark but she would call me into the back and I would
go in the back and when I was 26 and thought I was all that I would go in the
back and she would be in her chair and she would have flour all over her from
cooking and she would say oh come here and give me a hug and I would look like
not in this soup but as I got older I started to look forward to someone
coming out and summoning me saying miss chase would like to see you and then I
would go back and I would look forward to giving her that hug no matter how
much flour she had on and how much my only one good soup cause but she would
do things like this and this was most recently she would say Cedric house that
beautiful little baby boy of yours and I would say he’s bad and she would say
good and then I could hear mumble on her voice you deserve it but then she would
take me in the back sometimes and really give me a life lesson lessons that I
cherished to this day she called me in the back and she said Cedric listen to
everyone no matter how big or how small because you never know who’s gonna teach
you something she say think about me she said every day I learned something she
said I remember the dishwashers telling me one day miss chase why do you put the
cherries and the lemonade because it always comes back and then we have to
take it out and it clogs the dishwasher she said and I learned that I was just
wasting money on putting a cherry in the lemonade and she said someday Cedric the
Busboys will come back and say Miss Lee I don’t know what’s going on
but the peas are coming back on the plate and she said that meant something
was wrong with the peas for that day and the moral of the story was never think
that you’re too important to learn from anyone and I’ll just close with this she
would sometimes when I would go in the back she would whisper to me so whenever
she whispered I’d get in close and I would believe what she was gonna tell me
and she would say Cedric you’re my favorite politician and I would smile
and and and I would light up and for a year when I was running for Congress I
went there every single Friday to meet with pastors and I just believed that
and then one day the Urban League came in town and then Mark came over and was
speaking and then she came up she grabbed mark and she said mark you’re my
favorite politician so let me just thank her and I know that she had to tell mark
and Mitch and Jared and all those other elected officials that just to make them
feel good but I know I was her favorite but today is a day of celebration into
the chase family to her three children and to a great grand children and
grandchildren let me just thank you for sharing her with us every day every
minute it was once she is one of the greatest people to live which is why she
is in the National Portrait Gallery and she will remain in the hearts of this
country forever thank you and may God bless you so I just want you to know Bishop Watson
did not forgive me for calling him out his name but that’s all right
you know everybody has a life story to tell I want to bring up now
mrs. chases biographer please welcome if you will
Carol Allen little did I know when I timidly approached mrs. Leah chase in
1997 to ask if she would let me write her life story but I was about to enter
the richest most fulfilling rewarding relationship of my entire adult life
over 20 years later I stand before you hoping you will imagine that while I am
the person speaking I’m actually speaking for you too for instance not a
person in this convocation Hall wanted this day to come we wanted her to stay
with us forever every single time you met Leah chase did she make you feel
like the most important person in the universe and when you saw her did she
ask you a question and then did she listen to your answers and the next time
you saw her did she say something like and how about that business we talked
about last time is that okay now Leah chase was all that and more to all of us
to each person sitting in this vast room and yet leah was totally human her
husband Duke he used to tell her God’s gonna punish you one of these days for
complaining she complained because she wanted things
fect and if they weren’t perfect she fussed once when working on our book I
interviewed five of the grandchildren in the Gold Room
I asked what happens when your grandmother acts old-fashioned you can’t
talk back she’ll hit you and fuss at you strict discipline if your opinion is
different than hers don’t say it but that’s okay
she’s right most of the time chase that was your line walk away from grandmother
while she’s talking to you don’t even think about it don’t walk
away from me I didn’t tell you you could leave stay right here and then
girlfriend’s boyfriend’s Lea taught her grandchildren this lesson don’t worry if
you get knocked down in life because that will happen just learn from that
experience and keep moving yes Lea that is what you taught all of us keep moving
Lea once told me life is like a game of checkers you move here if that doesn’t
work you move there eventually you’ll get to where you need to be think with
me of New Orleans as a giant checkerboard
we are a mishmash of cultures languages race whatever Leah chase is the only
person I have ever known who could fall onto any square in that giant
checkerboard and be accepted comfortable and loved – Leah’s children Stella
Dukey Leah thank you for sharing your mother with us so generously
surely we’ve overwhelmed you at times but collectively we love her and we love
you too and we’ll follow the next generation knowing your parents
influence is on all of your lives children the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren and you will continue to be a blessing to our city we will now hear from dr. Jessica Harris dr. Harris good evening there’s a hole in my heart
tonight but that hole is smaller than the rend in the cultural fabric of New
Orleans tonight we are all in mourning with the chase family that has so
generously shared their matriarch with us all these years thank you
my name is Jessica Harris and I’m a professor and a food historian and as
you can no doubt hear I’m not from here I’m from New York but I pay taxes here
without the homestead I don’t remember when I first heard of Dooky chase
restaurant probably it was in the 1970s when I worked at essence magazine
I know that I visited it on my very first trip to New Orleans all those
decades ago I would become friendly with mrs. chase a bit later and after my
mother’s death I was grateful when she said to me one day Jess I’ve decided to
take you on take me on she did enveloping me in her love and caring
sharing wisdom giving me a nickname and allowing me into her life at this sad
time although I could speak for hours I’m the daughter of a Baptist minister
granddaughter rather I decided to reflect on who she was to me through the
letters of her name L is for love she shared her love with us all everyone who
entered her presence was enveloped in her warmth and caring e is for
enthusiasm yes from her was galvanizing and her participatory support for any
project could bring it to fruition a is for audacity she was willing to
take bold risks for civil rights and for what she believed in
it’s also for art but you’ll hear about that later
H is for hope she believed we all had the capacity to be better and therefore
had to do better l 4 Lang is for more love cs4 curious mrs. chase was curious
about the world she was always up for an adventure
whether it was sampling a new ingredient or visiting a new restaurant or
traveling to an unknown city or country H is for heart hers was so large that we
were all unfolded in it a is simply for her amazing grace s is for spirituality
her faith was her rock and with this in mind I have reached out to my friends
and had a mass said for the repose of her soul on six continents I know nobody
in Antarctica e is for extraordinary exemplary and eternal my friend my
adopted aunt Leah chase dr. smart-mouth will miss you my sympathy and
condolences to the family a next speaker won’t be coming up here
to this podium but you all know who he is because I don’t think this place
would exist if it weren’t for him would you please welcome dr. Norman C Francis my mistake he is coming on thank you very much
Archbishop let me acknowledge you now I made the biggest boo-boo you would ever
want to know we about to operate the president of Tulane and trying to speak
generally I have part of a speech but Judge honoré took it from me I’m not
gonna tell that story but I’m gonna start in a very different way and I say
that because I’ve learned that when they tell you you’ve got three minutes to
talk you better talk fast and I can’t say my name in three minutes so in order
to make sure I get the message over i’ma talk about the last part of my speech
worse and I’m saying that because I’ve been sitting here and each one of the
presentations have been great the music the force in the eyes of Lear chase did
a good job in fact what I want to say to you is Leah chase could have been the
senator from Louisiana if she wanted to be so I wanted to get that out first so I want to first extend my sympathies
my family and all who knew Leia and say we have a greater sympathy for you and I
also want to say aside from being senator she was a Renaissance lady there
wasn’t that thing that you could talk about Livia that she didn’t have
something to say bye and it was almost always good advice and let me get to us
right what I’m about to read now is for the family
Leia has done her job and she now is looking to you family that she loves so
dearly and some of you will recognize it and I’m gonna read it and then after
that the XE two or three minutes I’m gonna add them y’all believe that
but I’m gonna read this you shall cross the barren desert but you shall not die
of thirst you shall wander far in safety through
you do do although you do not know the way you shall speak your words in
foreign lands and understand you shall see the face of God and live but be not
afraid I go before you always come follow me and I will give you rest
I think that captures Leah chase that’s what she believed that’s what you
practice and what’s been so interesting for me sitting here today so many people
know what to do but so few do with them and Leah chase not only knew but she
could do them and she was very convincing I’ll have to tell you my
story I graduated from undergraduate in 52 that right shake it all of you all of
you who graduated would be adult water agree yes just a published by but they
had my age in so many pieces of paper that I get that over with you know who’s
keeping time I graduate in 52 went to law school and
some of you know Dutch and I integrated to law schools Duchess ed and LSU and I
was head of all Yola and I had no money you know those of you who know I look at
moon the earth moon was with me in law school he didn’t have any either did he but it was it was good to know somebody
like me I used to study with Dutch in the old French hospital hospital they
tore that down but we don’t want Saturdays and studying there like and
now I’m living on campus because I couldn’t stay on wireless campus because
I have integrated the place to study not got to live so I got a job oh I got a
job working and Savior is anyone they gave me the management of the freshman
class at Xavier now if you want to know a little bit about freshmen to talk to
me I’ll tell you how they grew up why they grew up the way they did and so
forth but their chase was my life Savior I
walk from the old frige Hospital down to the restaurant and I was my menu for the
day every day glad I was there I’d get red beans and rice pieces oh don’t take
it back a piece of sausage a big root beer and I could study for the rest of
the year necessary but I say this to you for two reasons
one there was never a conversation with there that she didn’t know not only more
than I did she leave what she knew and then gave me advice about what I should
know and then proceeded shaken heads and said now you got it
yes I do yes ma’am and I came back from the service in 1957 for those of you
don’t understand what was happening at that time
graduated from the law school on a Saturday got married on a Monday and got
drafted in the army Deden and for those of you who plan to register general I
was a lawyer and a private in the army and I met and want to know what in the
world are you doing as a private in the Army and working in the army as a
medical technician and they see wo said what in the world what are the what are
you doing in the Army private life you want to be a commissioned officer I
looked at him and I said what he said you need to be a commissioned officer he
ought not to be wish wrong in the pots and pans and all of that you should be a
commissioned officer with the loss loss all of you show that that’s what they
were all right and I spent a year doing that and he said you need to be in the
Jag I said I was checked see well you get a commission and
those stripes one stripe off put the ball thought I said haha how long do I
have to stay to be in my jag well it’s a three year Commission and and how many I
said I’ve got one oh you ought to get two I said mister I swore to give you
two as a private you could offer be a general and I wouldn’t take because I’m
going home back to a family and a child and that’s gonna be my contribution to
the service and I’ve said this because I spent time in the army with privates who
had no idea what they were asked to do in the army as a private but I came back
to this country and I was in the ER v in at all Hospital I was with the Corps
that’s some of you won’t have any idea what Corps is sitting here what I was
said in a core but what I got a chance to do was to be with people like Leah
chase you know somehow and I guess this is still true it takes the wisdom of all
age and the impatience of youth and it works it works and as I stand here in
this at this podium I’m at living now because everybody used what I had and in
a few minutes in a few minutes I’m gonna leave this because I realize that I
spent my whole career in higher education
my whole well I guess about 60 somewhat years in higher education
I learned something and I learned not necessarily from
the smart people are very different people like their Chase and I I’m not
bragging y’all read about it I went to commencements in the last seven days
Howard University one day and then six days later Notre Dame and I realize this
country boys standing at that microphone talking to 25,000 people you know so I
told him the truth I told her where I came from told him
where I went to school and the reason I did
we’ve got people walking around and you ask him where did you graduate they
would never say save a university I said then where did you get educated did
mumble and say save University so I thank all the folks who helped me but
I’m here to say Leah chase wasn’t a Renaissance lady and I don’t know
what New Orleans would have been remember what year it is thanks to some
folks I know very well we have to make sure that we don’t look down at people
and think that you’re gonna make a contribution
it won’t happen it’s people who don’t say where they went to school but prove
that they could do what they needed to do to make where they were better than
it was so grateful one for Leah chase I’m grateful to the family as they call
me uncle and I appreciate that and I appreciate the fact that we are at the
cusp I pray God that they are chase is praying for us and say don’t you make
that move you know don’t you make that move and do
what you need to do how you were taught to do it and they take the
responsibility for poor people who cannot my generation there was there
were a lot of people like me didn’t get to stand at this podium and so I take my
job is and I said some things and a couple of those universities that I
shouldn’t have said but on my way back home I thought well if I don’t say it
who will say it so I want to thank the family for giving me this opportunity
because sometimes we remember where we come from and where we gotta go thank
you very much okay dr. Francis took everybody else’s
time you can go home since he made several references to the military our
next speaker knows the military very well and without him we may not never
gotten back to New Orleans after Katrina please welcome general Honore your
esteemed masters bishop thank you for bringing comfort now miss chase I will
pronounce your name three times miss Leah chase the first announcement is to
announce your departure miss Leah chase the second announcement is to announce
your transition and miss Leah chase the third announcement its announce your
arrival at the right hand of God last Saturday night I was indulging on
my back porch minding my own business Ben and brandy and cigars and my phone
blew up it was that about that time out of a gene called my wife Beverly and
told her what had happened and from that time forward this lady occupied my mind
as she occupied most our hearts today my only wish was I would get to pay respect
to her in this public manner my other wish was I wouldn’t have to follow dr.
Frances and Bishop I almost pulled it off I took the batteries out of his to
delay him but you can’t stop that man from Carencro he made his way up yeah I
thought he couldn’t walk the next morning as I had to bless him to get up
and reflect on this lady in my mind I did a tweet which is not the best way to
start a morning some people still working on that but I like to reflect on that tweet and
I’m almost done mistake we will miss you but we’ll never
forget you your smile you know she’d be referred as an expert cook and a friend
but she was a diva she got lighter room up and to see her
work a room and everybody she bet felt special your leadership when the nation
needed leadership those counseling to the congressman as he shared many others
I’m sure Mitch and others will give testament she always told me take care
of the country general like I was in charge but it made me feel good because it was
a challenge and a hospitality and one of our biggest showers in our house a
couple of years ago miss chase was coming to dinner now we’ve done
entertaining all over the world and Pig China up from year and crystal and we
had to get it all out for this Chase was coming to dinner what an experience that
was and I’ve got to say my wife was very nervous that day but she received many
compliments from Miss Chase for every time we saw her after that and we thank
you Miss chase for your talents as a chef you’re not only fed people
nourishment you fed their souls because on any departure we felt better
after we met you than before we had an opportunity to be in your presence one
last point they use a Francis moment I was sitting there minding my own
business in my office in Atlanta and I got a call by Eid they got a call from
the White House and said the president want to go to dinner want your
recommendation where we have this big dinner so I didn’t hesitate
I said duty chase and my aide from New York said how do you spell that
I said son figure it out I don’t know how to spell it so they call back to the
White House and the word came back okey what’s the address I said figure it out
two hours later they came back and said well the restaurants not open and said
what what’s your other recommendation general I said Dooky chase then the word
came down to Louisiana and it worked around the city of New Orleans and the
word came back said well a restaurant is not open we would love to do it but a
restaurant not open I said tell the people in New Orleans to tell mrs. chase
the dinner is gonna be at Dooky chase and when she found out her and Petunia
chefs helped her put together an outstanding dinner for the chief
executives to president many members of his cabinet and she worked that room I
don’t know where she learned it but she worked that room she was a diva we’re
gonna miss you God look out you got something on your hand god bless that’s how we got home next we’d like to
hear from dr. Marvin Hughes dr. Hughes former president dead Dillard University I could read the speech in front of me
somebody brought it whose is it I am pleased to be here I didn’t think at
first that it would be possible but when I woke up last Sunday and got the
message I knew that I had to get here and so
when the family started calling me to say that they wanted me here I said I
will be there mrs. chase would not forgive me if I were not there I had
heard about the Dooky chase restaurant particularly in California when a movie
star came to tell me that there was a very special place to eat in New Orleans
but he went to her restaurant in jeans that’s before jeans were past popular
mrs. chase said sure I would be happy to feed you but you must go back and dress
properly to come to my restaurant he said he went and bought the appropriate
thing so that he could eat and do cliches and he was always pleased that
he did so naturally I looked forward to being
able to eat at Dooky chase and mrs. chase was always so courteous that I
never bothered because I was always a guest but when I was appointed to the
position at Dillard University she called Dillon universities
administration and said I’m ready to give a big party and they said what’s
happening she said you know the woman you just appointed I’m giving her a big
party next week well interestingly I was still in
California and they said mrs. chase you need to wait for a couple of months
educators don’t always act very rapidly you know so mrs. chase said no I am
going to give her a party next week I don’t care what till it says she found a
way to call me and she said I want you to be here for the party and of course I
decided to come Dillard didn’t feel very honored that I did that but I always
knew that I liked mrs. chase and I didn’t know if she knew who I was but
she said she did and when she tells you that she is going to give you a party
you better look out it’s going to be a party she is connected and was connected
to all of the major politicians in the state of Louisiana and in other places
too and so naturally she had them all there and that was a wonderful
experience for me most of you think of mrs. chase as just mrs. chase she is so
much more than that I discovered very early that she was a part of all of the
major decision-making in the city and in many other places when Katrina came that
was a group appointed called the women of the storm and we traveled back and
forth to Washington DC fortunately I had been experienced in Washington DC as an
educator in California so I knew it very well but it was at that point that
I knew that mrs. chase was really one of the most educated people that I would
have the privilege to know like others I appreciated her atmosphere I appreciated
her kindness and I appreciated everything she did to make it possible
for me to be successful in New Orleans her elegance was unmatched
she was elegant whether she was with a politician whether she was with a king
or queen she knew how to do that she was appointed with me to that group in women
of the storm and that’s when I understood her political savvy she could
hang with me as I went from politician to politician and she could negotiate
better than I could so it’s wonderful to be around I always wonder to what if
anything I could give to mrs. chase because she seemed to have everything
she wanted but it occurred to me that somehow no one had thought to give her
an honorary Doctorate and that’s tough to do so I decided that I was going to
try to convince my faculty that she deserved to have an honorary Doctorate
and so I assisted and been filling out the papers and doing everything to give
her an honorary doctorate and I went before that faculty you know how formal
faculty can be but I went before them with this information and I said this
woman deserves to be a doctor well it never occurred to them that she
did but I’ve made the motion somebody second the motion and another person
said I call for the question because there is no discussion about this you’re
going to get a unanimous vote it’s the thirst probably the last
unanimous vote but she did get the honorary doctorate and interestingly
after I gave her that honorary doctorate the following year almost every
University in this city every University in this city gave her an honorary degree
I thought that was fabulous I would like to say a lot of things about mrs. chase
but I don’t have the time to do that she was a Trojan of civil rights she was a
deep believer in equal opportunity she saw herself as being comparable to
anybody anywhere in the world and she was able to deliver on that her food was
absolutely impeccable so every time I came here after I left I went to her
restaurant and I managed to go back into the kitchen and hug her because I loved
her so much and I think the last time I was there
her biography was being prepared but she could take you into so many different
rooms and tell you what she was doing in that room mrs. chase is an icon
she has patience she is a determined kind person but she also loved life and
she loved being able to spread her knowledge and her food around the world
food is something that everyone enjoys and she knew how to do it well so to
mrs. chase I want to say to you today thank you for giving me the opportunity
to be a friend thank you for giving me the understanding about what life really
really means thank you for standing up when sometimes you thought that there
was nobody else to stand up for you she could do that and so as I say goodbye to
dr. Leir Chase’s she honors and deserves every bit of what a doctorate is about
and I’m delighted that my colleagues I think Xavier followed right and and too
late but they followed they followed so so mrs. chase is dr. chase and dr. chase
means that she is a person of wisdom who is smarter than most people who have
many many degrees but she has that top degree called the doctorate of Education
and when she went on stage to accept that degree at Dillards commencement she
said I don’t understand how I earned this she said I didn’t even write a
dissertation how did I get a doctorate well she got a doctorate because she is
a brilliant human being a loving human being I will always cherish and love her
for as long as because she taught me so much
thank you mrs. chase thank you dr. chase Thank You dr. Hughes one of the
traditions of Mardi Gras is when Zulu stops at Dooky chase restaurant if you
will please welcome the president of the Zulu organization mr. Elroy James I see the general is no longer with us
but it appears as though that he and I do share something in common and that’s
coming behind educators but I do promise you that I’m gonna stick to the
three-minute timeline that was presented to us on the seesaw it’s an honor for
the Zulu social Aid and pleasure Club to be here on today so I do want to share
with the family that I that I have some other some individuals with us on the
day and I want to first acknowledge a longtime friend of your mother your
grandmother your great-grandmother the young man who’s represented representing
an organization as King Zulu 2019 George V Rainey so I’m here today to extend to to the
family condolences on behalf of the officers and board members and over 800
members of the Zulu social Aid and pleasure Club but I also want to
publicly thank you the family for sharing your mother with us I want to
thank you for not being selfish you shared your mother with the world and
for that we will be forever indebted to you your willingness to share you your
mother your grandmother and your great mother great grandmother with people the
city of New Orleans I believe gave us an opportunity to witness firsthand what it
really means to live a life a life that will not be in vain I believe Miss Chase
life personifies the lyrics of this of the song that says she helped people as
she passed along this way she cheered somebody with her many words and she did
her duty her duty that all men and women are called to do so
it’s not a coincident that the King and queens of our organization toast the
last toast that we make is that the restaurant deke chase restaurant you
know I’m sure miss chase believe that she was honoring the men and women that
were selected to represent our organization she was honoring our club’s
royalty our organization’s royalty but but the truth is we were honoring a
cultural ambassador of the city of New Orleans you see she opened the doors to the city
of New Orleans through food or infectious smile and with communication
always sharing those pearls of wisdom with us when we work to change for a
route such that the parade passed in front of the restaurant it was because
we wanted to honor a longtime supporter of our organization admittedly
I can say that in in 2012 I was a little bit selfish and and I enjoyed and the
honor that miss chase gave to me when I reigned as kings who learned 2012 and I
heard her say King Zulu you are so beautiful you’re absolutely beautiful but Dean chasing and and and LaDuke I
believe it was your mother’s stamp of approval that said again our
organization had correctly captured the culture of Mardi Gras and the traditions
of the city of New Orleans so as I go to map to to my seed I want to say to the
family because you shared Leo Lang chase we shared in your loss on this evening
but because you shared your grandmother your mother and your great-grandmother
you taught the men of Zulu how to love and we loved we truly loved
the queen of Creole cuisine last I checked America was still a
democracy although I didn’t get the latest tweet so I may be wrong but in
New Orleans we have royalty so the next three groups of people I will be
presenting to you or some of our royalty would you please welcome the Landrieu
family Mitch and moon to fully appreciate live and the
family’s contribution Civic contribution I think it’s very important for us to
reflect on the period of our life she lived a long life
and a large portion of it was lived doing some of the worst periods in this
state’s history and I think of the mandatory legally mandatory segregation
and the white Citizens Council and Jim Crow monitoring the application of that
law and I think of the avenues that live pursued the fact that she and the family
operated a refuge a place where all could go call it did not matter
religious belief did not matter nothing mattered other than being a human being
and in that process I got to know Leah quite well and she became a member of
our family so to speak we’re deeply indebted to her for what she has done
for our family and what she has done for this country and particularly this state
and city she was an amazing woman she didn’t know the meaning of fear even if
she did she never showed it despite our talents for cooking despite a talents as
motherhood despite all her other talents the thing that stands out
naman has our enormous courage for what she’s done for the civil rights of this
nation thank you this is a cruel program
y’all put me behind moon Landrieu Norman Francis I’m not so worried about Cedric
but Russel Honore mark and I used to chase Cedric down the street so I mean
you know and no disrespect to the congressman because I would never do
that in front about it but but you know the truth about who was the favorite she
left us too early 96 beautiful years but nobody wanted her
to go and as I stand before you tonight I think the two words had come up time
and time again is love I know your mom would love me I know your mom would love
me it’s a beautiful thing to be able to walk into somebody’s presence and every
time know that they love you and you know Cedric I was thinking about what
you said about her telling everybody they were her favorite what if it’s
possible though that all of us really could be and I think that’s the way she
thought about us truth be known I have a lot of stories about your mama as you
know she doesn’t suffer fools lightly and me being as foolish as I am I caught
a whoopin in the kitchen I’d go in there and she would say like the same thing
all the time but it would come out different it would be like she would
always say how are you doing and then she would say what are you doing now
sometimes she would say what are you doing and every time she was saying she
would make you think I come up with this big great idea and I go over there and I
said Miss Lee I got this great idea so under said no no no don’t do that boy
and I go back to the math I was telling my staff so we’re not doing that
whatever y’all were thinking about we’re not doing that and the second word that
comes to mind is bravery you know we use the word courage it’s a good word
you got some courageous soldiers in this room when you got moon and you got
Norman and then you got Leah you know you you got an example that’s hard to
beat but more than anything else to me she was brave because she would always
say to me you know just keep doing what you’re doing if you think you doing the
right thing just keep going when your daddy died and that love was just an
amazing thing to watch you know she loved Johnny Mathis and so does your
daddy right chances are she loved that song especially when your daddy tried to
sing it sitting in a corner but immediately after his death she went
back to work I think she might have been that the next day and it just occurs to
me that you know work was her life but we were her work that woman opened up
that place and used food which was just a medium to accomplish her real purpose
which was to bring us all together and to show the world the way and so as I
sit here today I couldn’t help the other night when I when I heard I was praying
for her and the thought came into my mind almost from her what it is that I
think she would want to say to all of us today is who’s gonna carry on who’s
gonna pick up the pot the pan the spoon the knife in the fork and who’s gonna
carry on who’s actually gonna do the work that
she had kind of laid her life out to do and who’s gonna carry on and yet as we
sit here in this fabulous room with these incredible leaders in front of us
civil Dutch is looking down on us as well all the leadership that’s in this
room for us youngsters well not so much me but everybody a little bit younger
than me and Cedric that would be all they all who in fact is gonna carry on
and if you were ever confused about which way to go she was not unclear
uncertain at all she would always point that crooked finger at me and say boy
you just keep doing the right thing and you just keep going true and so the two
things that I think most about as I leave above symbols of her life one of
them is the cross that’s been pretty clear to everybody she talked to talk
but she walked the walk faith without works is empty that was her life and her
meaning to us but as general Honore alluded to one of a great American
heroes as our nation is adrift and it certainly is now as she knew it too
and the president this president evidene to step into ducky chases if you think she would not say to him
what he needed to hear when she told President Obama don’t you put that
Tabasco sauce in my gumbo you know she would speak truth to power that she’s
that she’s the she is everything America has always aspired to be and that’s why
I wore my American flag I put it on right before I left because when we
think about what’s supposed to happen in this country if we built it the way it
should have been the first time I can’t think of a better person a stronger more
loving person that represents what America has always supposed to be and
what America’s promises to the future then our dia Leah chase god bless you
and Godspeed so there was another family that had a
father and son who were mayor of the city if you will please welcome the
Morial family this is not a dissertation don’t get
scared – Lee chases children Stella
Edgar and Leah and all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
the entire family I bring messages from my family
June remarked shock Sir Ian Monique and all of my grandchildren who love Leah mark would be here but at this very hour
he is speaking in Milwaukee he said if it just been earlier I could have pulled
it off but he brings his sympathies to the family I share with you my wonderful
memories of my friend the memories of my children they all loved her and they all
made that trek back to the kitchen every time we went to the restaurant first
I’ll share with you my memories of Leah and Dukey and the restaurant in the
1940s Leah came to New Orleans to high school to st. Mary’s Academy which then
was located on Bourbon Street after high school barely out of her
teens she got a job waiting tables on Bourbon Street and that experience set
her on the track to what would become her profession her life but she was
known not only in New Orleans but beyond beyond the boundaries of the city she
became known in this country and abroad and I’ll say a word about that her
future husband Edgar Dooky chase jr. was the son of Edgar Tookie chase senior
and rookie back in the 1940s had a big man he managed that band they traveled
he really was a pioneer in this city in jazz they met and married and that was
the beginning of the legend of Dooky chase restaurant as lea became the chef
and brought with her the memories of the restaurants that she had worked in she
in her own mind was building what Dooky chase restaurant would become she
determined during those years of segregation to make that restaurant a
fine dining facility for all of us particularly for african-americans who
didn’t have that opportunity back then when the laws restricted us her
immediate contributions to dukey’s was a wonderful Creole food of her culture of
her background and she brought back memories of my grandmother’s cooking and
my auntie’s cooking and I’m sure many of your ancestors cooking so let’s see
where am I in her wisdom know she wanted what she saw in the restaurants in the
French Quarter and other places she wanted a beautiful restaurant she wanted
especially chairs she talked about those chairs she said in my restaurant one day
I want to have those beautiful chairs and the table with linen tablecloths
white tablecloths and nap so that my people can enjoy what others
do in this city so her immediate contributions was the dishes the
wonderful Creole dishes that she said but in her mind she was conjured
conjuring up this vision of what this restaurant would become so in in the
1970s no I have to I don’t know why I’m jumping into the 70s in the 1970s yes
the restaurant extended and quadrupled in size creating a big dining room and
two separate smaller rooms and wow they were and while she was furnishing the
dining room she brought those chairs and the those
table linens and her vision expanded as she began to collect art after she was
on the New Orleans Museum of Art bored she was collecting the art of
african-american artists and I think today that she may hold the biggest
collection of african-american artists maybe totally well if not more than
maybe there may be another gallery that does it but she brought this gift to us
and who will her artists Elizabeth Catalan Jacob Lawrence John Biggers John
Scott Richard Thomas Bruce Price and many many others she created a literal
art gallery where we could dine in great fashion and observed these wonderful
pieces on the wall now someone could come in not in jeans
even though jeans are the fashion today but they can come in and have a po-boy
and be in this art gallery the problem never would step into an art gallery in
their lives but Lia provided this for all of us so not only did she offer the
most delicious Creole dishes and fine art but she presented some of our Creole
culture and maybe some of you didn’t notice of what her murals on that wall
as you walk in depict and I’m gonna tell you about them one of them was a picture
of a vegetative edge filmic wagon the wagon pulled by the mule coming through
the neighborhood selling fresh vegetables from the farm and you would
hear him announce his coming into your block I got watermelon red to the ride I
got fresh okra and fresh mustard greens and green onions and bell peppers come
on out and so we all got our money together and went out to go buy all our
vegetables and fruit and you remember recently mr. okra was the last of that
generation I guess he passed away but he had he had his vegetable wagon now
second one of those murals portrays the Ragman how many of you remember the
Ragman and your mama would tell you if you don’t behave yourself I’m gonna give
you to the Ragman he would collect rags and I guess he sold them so there was
another mural that depicted the snowball wagon and he had a big block of ice and
he had this old metal scraper and he would scrape that ice and put it
in the cup and pour that syrup over it when he came into the neighborhood all
the children all around with gay with their nickel to get a snowball from
the snowball wagon now another one another one of those murals depicted a
hopscotch how many of us played hopscotch when we were young
that was a game that didn’t cost anything because we would draw the
hopscotch with broken grit brick that we found on the ground and what we would
throw was a piece of slate that fell off somebody’s roof
not today my granddaughter was playing hopscotch with these fancy crayons and
she had this little round disc as she would throw and I told her the story
about my hop scotch time now but that’s and the next one was to a hand reaching
up and one reaching down and that depicted come on we have to help each
other let’s pull up that was a very significant mural the final one shows
the traditional green shutters of the houses of New Orleans with the slats and
one of the slats was open and there were two eyes looking out looking around
minding other people’s business and you know what we called it door poppin so that Creole culture was right there
along with this other fine art she shared all of her talents with us her
food her art her culture we thank her so much for all of that and she taught by
example she was always gracious and respecting
of everyone no matter their station life she loved her neighbors in the housing
project across the street and they loved her and they protected her and her
restaurant my memories of rookie chase restaurant go back many many years
during the times of rigid segregation in New Orleans and all over the south when
African Americans were barred from public places for white people only as
moon and Mitch mentioned now dukey’s as we called it we didn’t say Dooky chase
restaurant we said cookies that’s where we went as teenagers after how prom
that’s why we went with our families on Mother’s Day and on Father’s Day that
was our big experience now we all have so many stories to tell about Leah about
miss Leah about mrs. chase about mrs. chase about Queen there I’m
gonna share a few of them with you so I’m gonna begin back with 1954 the year
that the brown decision outlawed segregation in public schools that was a
landmark decision that was a light at the end of the tunnel that was the
opening that we were moving forward by we I mean african-americans who are
getting just treatment would get just but not
after many after many many people were arrested and heard it was a hard time so
this is what had to happen the decision from the Supreme Court was unanimous
all nine justices voted for that decision but it was a law of the land
but that wasn’t it we all wondered what this meant in the south well in the
south every single law every single law segregating us from others had to be
dismantled had to be repealed now how was that going to be done well the
genius team who argued the case before the Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall and
Constance Baker motley and Bob Carter and Jack greenberg came down to
Louisiana to New Orleans as they did to other southern states and they met with
the attorneys here with AP tool the Dean of black attorneys here in Louisiana
my late husband Dutch Morial and many others and they strategize together to
see how we were going to dismantle these laws now they were down and who was it
who called it the French French Hospital it became the clava building which was
the hub of what was going on during this during the civil rights era where a
Peters office officers who are and my husband’s the NACP office the Urban
League office everything was going on out of that building so as those
attorneys worked at lunchtime they had to eat now
this was 1954 we couldn’t that it was against the law for whites and blacks to
meet together and heaven forbid Heat together so they went down the street of
rookie chase restaurant and jokingly over there and they escorted the men
breaking a law but with courage and believing that this is what had to be
done as good at them upstairs to the private room I called it the upper room
because that’s where history was made and they would strategize over Leah’s
wonderful food her bosal gumbo and red beans and rice and hot sausage and
stuffed shrimp so let’s see where am i all right so this brilliant team of
lawyers that my husband at 26 years old has a great fortune to work with these
genius attorneys they worked they came back and then they went to other states
now the lawyers work digit digit diligently strategizing and they started
around 8 a.m. my husband said we start at 8:00 we work till 12:00 we go down to
do keys for lunch for two hours and then we come back and we work again till 6
o’clock he said what there’s good food helped us to make it to the end of the
day now when Leah Brooke when Leah and took he
broke the law I didn’t think of it as breaking the law you know it had to be
John so 1954 was that big year but it was a
big year for me and let me tell you about that I had just come back from
teaching in Massachusetts in the summertime and Dutch was a practicing
lawyer and we met a couple of times at a great books club and all we talked about
was the brown decision what did this mean how would it happen and we just
couldn’t get enough talking about it so he would call me and say he says I got
an hour off meet me I took his for lunch so that’s when Lucas was just the goal
room and at the end of the Gold Room was a window you could see into the kitchen
and there was Leah and so Dutch and I came in and said I’m then we got up and
went to talk to Leah and she said Oh giving her sign of what is now high-five
I like this relationship do it so she encouraged our courtship every time we
went down there which was a couple of times a week now fast-forward to recent history leah
was the most gracious and generous person that I know how wit and wisdom
please so many people but we’ll all of that she had a humility that was so
endearing and she was so loving she often said if everyone would work the
best they could in this city then this city would lead dynomite
in the late seventies she and I said they quote Quattro quadrupled the size
of the restaurant and it was the site for all big dinners all groups meant
they met there hall luncheons all dentists that was the place to go and
there was layer waiting with her love and we all made our trek back to the
kitchen to pay homage to the Queen and I remember one of my grandchildren said
when are we gonna go see miss chase in the kitchen and they hugged her and they
loved her now after Hurricane Katrina the restaurant
was flooded and couldn’t open friends and admirers helped her to restore the
restaurant you will hear from these chefs the chef who comes up John folks
is gonna tell you about that and Noma the New Orleans Museum of Art helped her
save her art that came in and took the art and stored it in the museum
so she secured a trailer parked across the street from the restaurant and she
began cooking every day she said that all this food in the freezer lab and
freed the neighbors so she cooked every day and call the neighbors from across
the street come on and
that was her goodness now she’s she restarted the traditions of gumbo Zeb
and the couple’s a busy apostrophe h.e.r.b.i.e s herbs that was a tradition
a Catholic tradition on Holy Thursday you cooked combos there because it’s the
last time you would eat meat before he’s to Sunday she makes the best gumbo safe
high every even better than my grandmother’s I hope she’s not listening
to me so right so after the first time they
opened was or the Holy Thursday and people came it was so crowded they were
waiting in line outside not presently she does it every Holy Thursday and
there are three seedings and they are sold out if you want a
reservation you better reserve at the day after Easter oh you won’t get in
there’s in Louisville o’clock serving one o’clock maybe I’m right
no 10 1:00 and 5:00 so all of you who have never had that experience you need
to call rookie chase now and tell them you want to come to eat some gumbo Zeb so what that’s what was unique about
about turkeys is the presence of Leah the savory dishes through traditional
Creole dishes the culture that she brought back on her murals and a
wonderful Leah chase presence coming out to greet the diners everybody waited
when we’re coming out and she come out and share her wit and wisdom with us and
we loved it and I’m sure all of you experienced that so she hosted she fed
important people to presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush entertainers
Duke Ellington Dizzy Gillespie Lena Horne and Ray Charles who mentions who
has aa in one of his song you gotta go down duckie chase and Stevie Wonder and
she also hosted every publisher John Johnson but she and Jesse dent the wife
of the president of Dillard at the time conceived this idea to do the ebony
Fashion Fair and those of you who are old enough to remember it was a big big
fashion show that black people never had it was supposed to but it was she and
mrs. Jesse dad that pulled that off now the Disney movie The Princess and the
Frog was based on Leah chase did you know that everyone across this country
knew her her portrait hangs in the national gallery of the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington DC and I’m so glad you brought this portrait of Leah
that was painted by our friend dr. Rhys Delmar Eisner I’m so glad it’s here now Lina’s honors and awards are so he
was so numerous and the stories that you’ll hear would would touch your
heartstrings she’s gotten every honest she’s got a got a Doctorate she’s got
the logs from everybody she was a charter member of the International
Women’s Forum a group of women of premier premier women all across the
gold and when we hosted the International Women’s Forum here but we
hosted one of our activities at Dooky chase restaurant and there were people
from every continent there she’s done worldwide I want to tell you this story
about one of my children and he’s here when jock was a little baby was three
months old I went to the restaurant and hid in my arms he I said yeah it’s my
last one it wasn’t but I said here’s my new baby and his name is Jacque she said
oh he’s so cute she said what’s his name she said Jacque
that’s a nice little suit you have a little sailor suit but it’s way too big
it must be a hand-me-down for a mark there was a role model for all of us for
me and I would tell there all the time I said Leah when I grow up I want to be
just like you and she laughed she said oh no no no I
said oh yes I’m so happy that you children are going
to continue the restaurant you’ve been involved of children and grandchildren
have been involved in a restaurant and I hope you’re going to continue the
traditions and I was elated when I found out that you’re gonna restore that upper
room and that that was in the work before Lea just left us that is a hallowed room his darkroom
where history was made and we want to come to it so Delia in your 96 years you spread
love and grace and strength and believed in all that is good and set an example
for what we should all strive for we extend our deepest sympathy to Stella
Edgar and Lea junior and all of Liz children and grandchildren and
great-grandchildren and to all of you here and throughout the city and the
world that she has touched Liam my dear friend I shall miss you I respect people and I respect the
mother of Marc and the husband of Dutch the first african-american mayor in the
city of New Orleans please give civil mauriello a big round of applause
she has documented a lot of what we need to remember in our history in her book
and I would encourage you to read it I’m sure that the next person coming up is
not gonna speak as long as she did he is not a word person he’s a money person he
is Alden McDonald jr. the president of Liberty Bank thank you Bill I want
everyone to know that even though we’re sitting over there they’ve taken all of
my time to talk that would be very short there’s so much history about mrs. chase
not only for all of us to learn but for all of us to really understand and
appreciate and I’m up here representing the are teak and the McDonald family we
go back a very long way with the chase family my father who was a waiter since
he was 14 years old we used to go to the restaurant Chase’s restaurant to get the
French bread sandwiches and mrs. chase when I was small I would always remember
how she would treat my father it was mr. McDonald
and as I became older and married into the Artic family the our teak family had
a long relationship as well with the chases my mother-in-law Mimi who’s here
this evening should be 95 in July and she and mrs. chase used to run that race
and it was a beautiful relationship that I got to see with the families my
father-in-law justice Revis our TKE came up during the
civil rights days and was part of some of the legal teams that had influence
for some of the things that happen you still always go to Dooky chase his
restaurant and as a tradition for our family we would go for every family
occasion when my kids had AIDS on the report card we were going to deke chase
to celebrate my father-in-law would not go anyplace else because he remembered
the chases when the chases was brave enough to host the Freedom Riders to
feed him brave enough to bring people together to change the rules of the game
and as I sit here and listen to a number of speakers to come up and heard from
Cedric and Mitch and how they talked about mrs. chase hugged them I think
Cedric you might have won because you got all of the deaths on your on your
soup and in Mitch didn’t talk about the dust
on the surface so I think you got a bigger hug but Mitch got the finger when
he wouldn’t do the right thing and when you look at the life of mrs. chase how
she shaped everyone in our community and when you look at our city our leadership
this was a lady and her husband who literally who literally took steps that
most people would not take and as we heard how mrs. chase would give everyone
some advice it was known that she not only gave everyone advice but she told
them how to straighten up and that’s a courage
it’s a courage from the civil-rights days to do what was done it’s a courage
to continue her leadership role in making certain that leaders in this
community got a word directly from her and as I began to grow in my career I
got to know that every person every person in this community went to mrs.
chase in that back room for advice I remember when Dutch Morial was in
office he would always go on a Saturday to get some lunch and as he was eating
he was getting advice and you could go down the road of every mayor in every
leader in this community I want to share with you and the family our appreciation
not only on behalf of our family but all of the families in the city of New
Orleans mrs. chase made everyone not only feel
special she gave them the courage to do what they wanted to do
I’m gonna read what’s on the front of your program because I wish everyone
would take this understand it and follow in her footsteps we have to pay
attention to one another regardless of how someone may look or act look again
looking at people is like looking at art she loved her art I may look at a
painting and dislike it because I don’t understand it but then I’ll look deeper
and I’ll see things better this here’s the life that mrs. chase
lived in practice and made everyone feel not only very good about themselves but
made them think about what contribution can I make to the city to the state in
the country we live every speaker this evening talked in terms about the
influence so I want to say to the chase family thank you thank you for your
mother thank you for your father thank you for
your grandmother your great grandfather the gift that they have given to our
city is very much appreciated thank you very much one additional piece just like
your mother had her way my father-in-law had his for those of you who remember
him you hold your hand up and you say hear hear
here here here here rest in peace mrs. chase god bless you so you’ve heard a lot of people talk so
we’re gonna hear some young men share some music with you and then we’ll go
back to a very shot into the program please welcome to Rio Boys Choir or just me within every boy and it’d be a lie – I like to show low
a brand-new be alive mrs. chase obviously was a chef a great
chef and to give homage to her culinary
talents please welcome chef Joe Randall mr. Randall
I should tell you that John Folse uh called and said he would not be able to
make it so chef Randall will give the culinary accolades John cold how things
were going he just was I never get here but he definitely be here in Monday and
we share that love for your mother I’d spoke with him the other day while I was
still in Savannah yeah both of us almost cried
about our girl our friend one of the best friends a chef could have in
cooking I wanna briefly tell you my kind of
encounter and how I found out about the adjacent I was in Sacramento California
maybe in 1977 and I walked into a bookstore and I was waiting on my wife
and she was shopping and I just happened to see a book with a black shadow on the
cover I’ve been cooking 15 years but I’ve
never seen one of them and it was Nate Daniel burden and it was
he in real um Bart’s book and you know the Lord has a way of working out things
I’m in Sacramento I had a dear friend we were childhood classmates and he was a
doctor now he had moved to Oakland and I’m sitting in his house he gonna tell
me about this restaurant down in Oakland called Lombard and all I said really
Lombard I said give me the phone so I called and
talked to Rudy and he was very welcome if any of you knew Rudy you know he was
a special cat but as I went through this book I began to learn some history about
the contributions that African Americans had made the food in America you know
people take it for granted with everybody wanting to go to culinary
school and everybody want to be a chef and be on Top Chef today you know we
forget that pride in 1977 this was domestic work nobody was aspiring to be
a shot you know nobody with long hours hard work and low wages but I was
fortunate enough to be in New York when Sylvia Woods died and I spoke at her
funeral and I say this to the family and all of you because it’s important that
you hear this as hard as Leah worked through all those years and all the
accolades that she’s gotten about all those things as a chef she was working
to make that business go she’s gone but the business is gonna continue and we
have to support it so often these these without without without us going and
showing our love for them into work she did it would be for naught so we need to
go there just as soon as the doors open when they extend the hours we need to be
dealing Saturday and Sunday so we can make sure that we participate in helping
it to grow let me be brief so I can get out the way for the rest of the
wonderful people who have something to say
Lea believed that service was not a courtesy it was a commitment she
believed in giving good service and that was the foundation of her converting
Dooky Chase’s into a white tablecloth fine dining restaurant she wanted to
ensure that the good food was well served to all her guests you know she
talked about being a waitress so she was familiar with good service becoming a
chef that means you forget about the service they go together good food good
service as a chef I was trained by an Italian chef and a black shadow but I
learned to take pride in the uniform I wore and that made me take pride in the
food I prepared Lea was so special she never could say no and I know cuz I
asked her a lot I was executive chef at Cal Poly Pomona University and I asked
her live will you come to Pomona she said well you know I said fly out here
and do a lecture demonstration for my students and people and then we’ll do a
dinner that night well there’s a gentleman named James Bell dr. Bell had
taught at southern in 1955 and he told me stories like it
was just a special treat on Sunday to jump in the car and drive from Baton
Rouge to Dooky Chase’s just he cuz there was no place else to go so he eventually
ended up at Cal Poly and he became vice president University and he and the
president came to New Orleans for n-c-double-a meeting and the president
had a couple restaurants he wanted to go dr. bell only had one dude he chases but
when he took the president to do to Jesus the President stated that he had
never experienced the kind of love and appreciation that he bestowed on him
when he came to that restaurant that night so when I became the chef at the
restaurant at the school the first question you ask
me what do you know daliyah Jason and so I said yes I do he said well we gotta
see about happening here so thus I asked the question and she came but I didn’t
stop passing she came to New York Chicago three or four times to
Washington DC we even did it in here at the Marriott in New Orleans
while all black chefs working together to try and help expose people to the
contribution that blacks had made him food in this industry so Libya was
always there to help so in 1990 I came to New Orleans for American Culinary
Federation convention and on the shuttle ride from the airport downtown they had
someone on the bus telling people where to go eat and they were naming
everywhere d but Dukey Jason I got upset so I asked
the guy why you’re not telling anybody gonna do the chase the D he said well
that’s kind of on the shady side of town so I guess he didn’t wanted him to go
over there near the projects at that time
but I told him all I’m going so you my will come go with me and and they did
come and we ate and had some of the finest food the first time I came to do
the chases I was working at the University of Southern California we had
a cross-country gourmet series and we came to New Orleans we were at our nose
and we were duplicating the restaurant taking it back to California but I
wanted to go to do the chasers and so I took her
I was pretty chef with me and you know we ate and Leah came to the table and
the only thing he could think the answer was where were you trained and she just
landed so I have no formal training I did this all by myself
so again leah was just a phenomenal chef John folks will be your Monday he’ll
tell you about how she and he fell in love with each other as chefs and he
worked help took his back over but since that day of me riding on that shuttle
I’ve told every individual that I met who told me I was going to New Orleans
that they should go to do the chases experiences and meet Leah and if they
didn’t it was their loss and so today on the last week I’ve gotten calls from all
over the country from people who calling me thanking me
for telling them to make that journey to meet Leah because she has changed their
life just by them being her presence so as a seasoned chef I can tell you attest
to the fact that she invited all the things that truly make a great chef and
mentor I love the food a concern for how the food is served and interesting the
joy of knowing that the people enjoyed it what she prepared with her hands on
the daily basis her life’s work broads to the hearts of many and it brought
your journal hard knowing that they enjoyed it
in some ways Lia hope that she left a mark that could be remembered just for
guests being in her presence and she did the civil more y’all pointed out the
chase probably has one of the great art collections in America for of
african-american artists and two fine artists in our midst who are going to
come and share a love of the Arts would you please welcome Ron Bichette and
Willie birch good evenin everybody I’m Rhonda Shea and this is my good
friend Willie birch we’re both artists I also have the privilege of teaching here
at Xavier and it’s an honor and a privilege for us to be here tonight to
talk to you and represent some of the aspects of the art so thanks to the
chase family again for sharing your mother and grandmother at a time of
grief with all of us who love her doesn’t the NEA did some research on art
and artists and what they found is that people love the art but somehow they
don’t particularly like the artist miss chase was different
she loved the artist then she loved the art and I can speak to that on my own my
first show at Simone Stern she was one of the ones who took a chance on a young
artist at the time and and purchased one of my paintings which is still in a
restaurant and I’m very happy that she did that she acquired it and had faith
in my work in a very early part of my career she teased me sometimes and said
you know I’m still paying for that one yeah you know but also to when she
brought it back to the restaurant that they have a little gold frame on it you
know so I have to take it back and have a gold frame put on it as well but I’m
very happy to be in that collection we call it our african-american Museum
among us you know us artists thank you Ron
thank you family my name is Willie Burch I’m very honored to be asked to speak at
my dear friend and who I consider my elder sister miss chase was 19 years 11
months older than I am and for whatever reason we formed a special bond I first met miss chase as an 18 year old
civil rights demonstrator we would meet in front of Dickie chase and wait for
Aretha castle hailey and from there we would go to do our business which was
incidences like the to integrate the library to sit in that McCrory grant
award we even decided to take city park understanding that the grounds that city
park was segregated but the museum on the grounds was supposed to be
integrated so mâche seem to understand a lot about what I do and we were very
much alike we both are very outspoken I think the nature of the artist is to
bring truth to power and miss chase respected that aspect of me so I asked
the the family do you sure you want Willy to speak in terms of I want to
tell a story and I’ll start at the end miss chase got over on Willy
and what I mean by that was that John Mitchell had moved to town which is his
foundation and a group of us happened to be in Dooky chase and we were talking
about the restaurant is our black Museum this was a special place artist and I
personally knew a lot of the artists in the collection and this was one of the
rare places in New Orleans where you could see art on a very high level and
you could appreciate it for not only its aesthetic reason but also for its sheer
inventiveness that’s the way I saw miss chase in terms of
her cooking and how she ran a restaurant based on that as we talk the idea of
making a film came up and somebody said let’s go get miss chase and see what she
think of this idea when the chase came out she we began to talk about the
possibility of doing the film and trying to bring some kind of attention to this
particularly unique place that I had known basically before I was 18 but like
I just said finally meeting miss chase at 18 and mâche s– began to embrace the
idea and since I have the ability to have a gift of gab miss chase became
very very interested in the project by saying if you ought to make a movie in
terms of documenting this place Willie Burge has to produce it that was very
frightening but I took on the challenge and we made the film now somewhere in
the making of the film and William saw Bain was the director I hired a director
and we hired the best talent we could in this city to do this film Ron Bechet was
in the movie cliff web mop my PO canard and I believe
Martin Payton from that experience somewhere in the film
I gave miss chase one of my small paintings and on her face she didn’t
really want that painting she wanted a rooster
I do roosters and and and and the type of roosters I do it’s it comes out of a
bird that looks over shoulder it’s a good name a symbol for if you don’t know
where you come from how you know where you’re going so for me I look around the
city for roosters but they have to have that
added layer in terms of understanding the symbology particular in terms of
african-american culture so what happened then was that we decided the
film was good enough to present to the New Orleans Film Festival to our
beknownst we won first prize miss chase was there it was a big celebration but
the story doesn’t end there so I’m going to end it like I started miss chase got
off on Willy there was about three years ago when Miss Chase was beginning to
lose her strength her son the third brought her to this symposium that she
and I and and and the director William participate in and inside and while we
were talking miss chase cocked her head over them she’ll have found me nose and
said Willy won’t give me a rooster so the people in the audience start saying
when you go give our rooster and in my own be far away I tried to make sense of
that by saying that miss chase not have to work that out but that wasn’t good
enough the crowd kept saying when you’re gonna give our rooster so I said to
myself I think I’m gonna have to try to do something about this because if this
lady was to die before she got this rooster I’m in serious problem I have
some serious problem so as we walked outside and people
howling you got to give our rooster Worley
I went home and I thought about it and then I in one or two days I went to the
restaurant and I made a proposal I said if you were to pay for the framing you
get my rooster she paid for the framing and I had it framed in terms of what we
call archival framing which is the best material you can to preserve a piece of
that nature I brought it to her and presented – and I’ve never seen that
happy in terms of my own personal relationship with her so I was happy
telling them we’re happy the people the cooks were happy that’s the story I want
to tell about my friend thank you obviously there’s so many stories we
could talk about you know there’s so many things that happen at the
restaurant that Miss Chase was a part of like the artist panel series that was
done there in the restaurant with food and artists who came every month who
with three artists at one time with a panel and and those kind of innovations
were things that we remember that we respect her for and are truly honored to
talk about I always wonder – my parents my mother who’s here is a member of the
neighborhood of Lafitte and grew up with the restaurant and so that was my first
understanding of how important it’s a community this place is and the
community of artists as well but I wonder – she collected roosters and
Willie’s rooster is one of them but I wonder why she collected him and sitting
here thinking about that I thought she probably collected the rooster – because
the ruse is called to wake us all up and to tell us we need to get together yeah
so thank you thank you we are moving toward the end to close
this out on tributes to his chase we go to the core for our soul the work she
did around civil rights around things that were important to all of us
please welcome if you will Dodie Simmons to share miss chases efforts in the
civil rights movement good evening as I sat and listening to all be forming
they all talked about their dining experience at Dooky chase well I didn’t
get to go have a dining experience at Dooky chase my first taste of duty chase
food had to come after being arrested for sitting in at the police station
I’ve spent two days in central lockup and our lawyers colleagues Douglaston
Eli would go to Dooky chase and get us food the second time I had food from
Dooky chase was after another arrest and it was right before Easter on Saturday
we had a shrimp sandwich on Sunday it was Easter Sunday the lawyers went mrs.
chase fixed us at Easter meal ham and all the fixing and the next day we were
carted off to parish prison for five days so that was the end of my first
experience with the couch ace but getting back to the civil rights
movement that brew upstairs that has been talked about was
very important mrs. Morel talked about the school board
decision the integration of the school where I didn’t come along and civil
rights until the 60s we I was the member of New Orleans Congress or racial
equality core Dooky chase Corbin an integrated organization when we met we
met in that upstairs room and I’ve been after Dukie to open up that room because
it is so important and he told me months ago that it was going to happen thank you the chase family has inspired
me and others young people of the civil rights era we sat in we did a Freedom
Ride and the Freedom Ride was coordinated between New York and New
Orleans that upstairs room was where we met to decide that when the Freedom Ride
was supposed to end here on April a May 17th early 1961 we had planned on the 17
a dinner at Dooky chase call meet the Freedom Riders not knowing that when
they got here they were being bid they had been beaten and we still had that
dinner there’s no other place like Dooky chase in the world there’s no other
family like the chase family I called him my extended family I look at Lee
junior and I think of her dad I don’t know if you were 18 or not
but you were singing released Jordan in the tympani 5 which was one of your
dad’s rival vans in Florida and I went every Sunday to hear you Stella is such
a sweetheart I love you Dookie is so much like his dad
his dad would say to me when young people were in the restaurant there are
some young people you need to talk to I was there recently and Stella had called
me and I had a busy day plan she’s saying NBC is doing a special on my mom
and she wants you to be there and I thought oh god I cooked a big breakfast
because I was gonna do a lot of work but when mrs. chase call you stop everything
and you go that same day there were a group of
students from Booker T Washington and I know I’m told to be talking about civil
rights but it has been mentioned and these are things that people don’t know
Dookie came up to say there’s some kids from Booker T wash and go back and talk
to them so I say why are they here they had worse students who all made a
four-point average and their gift for getting that four point average was
lunch at the key chase restaurant I went back and talked to him about the civil
rights movement how we sat in how we pick it going to jail and they didn’t
know anything about the civil rights movement
so I see Dooky chase restaurant as an institution that taught people I cannot
say enough the chase family but getting back to
civil rights or at the Casa Haley Rudy Lombard Jerome Smith Don Hubbard
David Dennis Matt Suarez Alice Shirley and gene Thompson’s who are cousins of
the congressman those were three brave young ladies Jean wait about was duck
she weighed 103 pound and she was the biggest of the three and you didn’t mess
with the Thompson sisters they were from a family of civil rights movers anything
that they were asked to do they did it James farmer who was the national
president of Corps spent many many days eating at Dooky chase James Baldwin the
author was a great friend of New Orleans Corps and spent a lot of time here there
is the corner in Dooky chase that I called the Baldwin corner Dooky chase
was the small restaurant at the time people talk about the addition but that
was an air but if you go in that back door and right off that little corner
was a table where James Baldwin would sit and write and smoke and drink and
have a conversation with your father Dukey and it was just amazing I think of
all the musicians who have been to Dickies all the civil rights people
who vente duckies there’s no other place in the world like Dooky chase I am so
glad I know I was supposed to talk about civil rights but you all know about
civil right don’t you but I’m gonna ask you to do one thing because I cannot
talk about Lear without talking about Dookie and I along with my fellow Corps
people are so grateful for all that Dookie and Lear had done for us to get
us through all that we had to do so I’m gonna ask all to stand up we stand
please and on my count of three I would like for everybody as loud as possible
to say thank you to lea and Dooky chase one two three thank you Dougy chase
thank you give yourselves a hand for being here we
appreciate you staying you appreciate you here and I’m gonna turn it back over
to the archbishop the closing prayers will be brief please
stand Lord Jesus the gentle Shepherd who bring rest to our souls give peace to
Leah forever you bless those who mourn bless Leah’s family and friends who
gather around her tonight and we pray now Lord Jesus as you taught us our
Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into
temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and
the glory amen let us now stand and ask for God’s
blessings may the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ bless and
console us and gently wipe every tear from our eyes for he is a loving God
living and reigning forever and ever…. Before you leave please welcome the Davell Crawford who is going to close us out with that song that song in which Ray Charles mentiones, Dooky Chase. give a hand for the great life, the extraordinary life of mama Leah Chase (Singing) Early in the morning,,,,,,,,,,,,,, can’t it get right I had some gumbo with mama Leah last night, it was a early in the morning it was yaaaaah early in da mor’n early in the morning [clapping while singing and I aint got nothing but food when to her friend,,,,,,,,, she was out Knocked on her door,,,,she was in the shower said get away boy early in the morning…….. early in the morning hey lord…early in the morning and I ant got nothing but the blues well Listen went to Dooky Chase to get something to eat the waitress looked at me and said you sure like eat’n…early in the morning early in the morning…. early in the morning early in the morning and i ain’t got nothing but the blues help me sing.. it was early in the morning early in the morning early in the morning early in the morning early in the morning and I ant got nothing but the blues it was uh early in the morning and I aint got nothing but the blues early in the morning and I aint got nothing but the blues………….. [Song Ends] [Piano playin… new song starting]

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