Born June 1917, Olivia Lee Morris was my maternal grandmother who was both creative and entrepreneurial. She was born with one leg shorter than the other one so she tipped when she walked but she did not allow this to hinder her. She was the only one of her nine siblings to graduate from Carver High School in Brownsville, TN.
Grandfather Arthur and Grandmother Olivia with their three daughters.
That's my Mom standing in front with the purse.
Upon her marriage, Olivia and Arthur moved to Memphis where they became faithful members of Lane Avenue Church of God in Christ. Arthur was later ordained as an Elder and he was known for being a praying man. He was a man of deep faith who prayed that his children’s children would be blessed. Although he died long before seeing any of his grand-daughters born, his prayers are still impacting us today.
After Arthur’s death on New Years’ Day 1963, Olivia became the sole support for her three daughters. Formerly a homemaker, Olivia worked in the school cafeteria, prepared taxes, and did sewing to support her family. Later that year, she moved her family to LeMoyne Gardens public housing to ensure that the meager insurance settlement would stretch as far as possible. She invested part of the money in helping her oldest daughter Thelma, my mother, graduate from LeMoyne-Owen College enabling her to become a teacher.
My grandmother holding newborn me.
In 1974 Olivia, now a grandmother, began selling candy. Known affectionately as the “Candy Lady”, kids from all over the community would come to her house to buy Pickles, Lemon Heads, Freeze Cups, one-cent cookies, and all types of treats.
With tenacity and a deep faith in God, Olivia was able to save $10,000 and was able to purchase her first home at age 63. She went home to be with the Lord in 1984 but her legacy of faith, tenacity, and entrepreneurship continue to inspire me today.
In her honor I created Olivia No2