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 surviving siblings to graduate from Carver High School in Brownsville, TN. She was an accomplished seamstress, prepared taxes, and most famously was the neighborhood Candy Lady.
(Olivia (2nd from right) and her four sisters - circa 1961)
(Olivia, Arthur, & their three daughters.
My Mom is the oldest standing in the white dress)
After the death of husband Arthur on New Years’ Day 1963 Olivia was the sole support for her three teenage daughters. She moved to LeMoyne Gardens later in 1963 to ensure that the meager insurance settlement she received upon her husband’s death would last as long as possible. She wisely invested part of the money in helping her oldest daughter Thelma to complete her degree in education from LeMoyne-Owen College enabling her to become a teacher. Thelma, my mother, retired after 41 years of teaching mostly second grade in 2006.
In 1974 after living in public housing for over 10 years and seeing the neighborhood change Olivia, now a grandmother, began selling candy. Kids from all over LeMoyne Gardens 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 as a down payment and bought her first home at age 63. She passed away four years later.
Her legacy to me is one of faith, ingenuity, and perseverance which fuel my desire to be a successful entrepreneur today.