I had been president of Dillard for about 14 months before I found myself in the kitchen at Dooky Chase with Chef Leah Chase. I think we met earlier that year in March as she was honored by our College of Business. But it was a big deal that she heard I was there and that she wanted to see me, and talk about how we can help more students go to college. This was right before we revamped the local UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball where she was one of the guest chefs.
I frequented Dooky Chase a lot. As many know I have for years done freshman lunch groups. One of the goals was to make sure they knew some of the black owned establishments. Dooky Chase is still my go to spot for lunch meetings with job candidates. It is a good place to talk a little about the history of New Orleans, as well as see the impressive art work. It always served as a reminder too that many local kids have never been there before, and as a place so connected to the civil rights movement I still feel they need that experience.
So when I got up Sunday and learned she died I was surprised. I guess like many I felt she would live forever. Several years ago I attended her husband’s funeral, but again, never imagined her own mortality.
I am sure there are pictures of us. At a UNCF Masked Ball. A Dillard campus program. Something. As I saw people post pictures with her yesterday I looked for mine, thinking about how people posted pictures like they would for any celebrity, although this celebrity never had a television show or social media presence. And yet, she was a bona fide celebrity!
I’m still looking for my pictures. But I found 2. One of her with Benjamin at Stuart Hall.
And one with Lydia. In the kitchen.