Orie D. Caver, (“DD”), was born November 5, 1945, in Natchez, Mississippi to the union of proud parents, Napoleon and Ollie (Collins) Caver. Two years before her birth, her parents welcomed older brother, Edgar Leon.
Napoleon (“Daddy”) and Ollie (“Mommy”) were hard-working and ambitious; however, they had goals that were almost impossible to achieve in the Jim Crow South. So, they embarked on a plan that involved leaving Mississippi. Like so many who migrated from the South, Napoleon set off for a better job opportunity in Chicago. He left his family in Mississippi during this pursuit. Ollie stayed behind with her two young children until Napoleon obtained work and a home for his family to join him. Soon after Napoleon obtained a job with the Armour Meat Company, Ollie and the children moved to Chicago. They first lived on 59th and Princeton in a communal home where they shared facilities with another family.
Around the time DD was nine years old, her parents would enlarge the family with addition of twins, Taryn (also known as “Terry) and Gerald (also known as Jerry and later as Rick), after their mother was unable to care for them. Soon after bringing the twins to Chicago, Napoleon and Ollie “adopted” the twins.
Around 1958, the family excitedly moved into their newly purchased two flat on 63rd and Morgan in the Englewood community. As a young girl, DD attended various grammar schools. She enjoyed music and loved to listen to the radio. She would sing along and dance to the music showing the twins her best moves and imitating her favorite artists. A mischievous pre-teen, DD got a kick out of getting in trouble with Mommy when her piano teacher called to report that she was not practicing enough between lessons.
One day, excitement filled the whole house when Daddy brought home a family gift that got DD and the twins in trouble every Saturday! It was a stereo hi-fi that not only had a radio but it had a built-in turntable that played ‘45s and LPs! DD had a collection of every Aretha Franklin single and album and she immediately played them on the new stereo turning it up real loud. Every Saturday, DD would put her favorite “records” on, turn the volume up real high while she and the twins would quickly finish their tedious Saturday morning cleaning chores.
As a teenager, DD had a zest for life and loved hanging out with her two best friends, Theresa Kennedy and Maureen Coats. They were like the “three musketeers” at Englewood High School and always hung out at one another’s house, especially on the weekends. Many times, DD had to take the “pesky” twins along with her. Mommy would say, if they can’t go, you can’t go! This would tickle Terry and Jerry, but would make DD SOOO mad. Yet, DD accepted the responsibility even when it disrupted her plans with her friends. DD was a teen when she accepted Christ at the family church, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Reverend Owen Pelt.
Eager to have money and to be on her own, during the fall of 1963, she got a job at Alexian Brothers Hospital located on Chicago’s North side. DD applied for the job without a clue as to how she would get there. So, for the first few weeks on the job, Daddy drove her to work. It did not take long for her to make friends; and, for years, one of her co-workers, would pick her up and drop her off at home every night she worked. While working at Alexian Brothers, DD studied and became a Certified Nursing Professional.
On July 19, 1965, her son Anthony was born. Born prematurely, Anthony was so small and delicate that his Grandpa immediately nicknamed him “Peanut!” To this day, he is called Peanut by special friends and family. Exactly one year to the day, DD’s daughter, Antionette, was born. DD affectionately called Antionette “Hannah,” a character from the Woodie Allen movie, “Hannah and her sisters.” Peanut and Antionette were big payback for Terry and Jerry who were enlisted to assist with the care of the newest family additions just as DD had cared for them. DD was a loving mother who, with the help of her family “spoiled” her children by rearing them in a loving, protective environment.
In 1969, DD learned that her mother had terminal lung cancer. DD continued work in her night position as she reared her children, cared for her mother and continued oversight of Terry and Jerry. After Mommy’s death in July of 1970, DD pressed on. Though it was sometimes difficult, she kept the promise to her mother that she would keep everyone together. So, at the age of 24, she reared her own two children and continued “raising” Terry and Jerry who were, by this time were close to finishing high school.
On November 16, 1974, Melvin was born. Melvin was DD’s “Butterball.” As her youngest child, he enjoyed the attention of his older siblings, the twins; and, his father, “Big Melvin.”
Big Melvin led DD to become involved with the politics in her community. She became a leader in the 16th Ward Young Democrats. Her engaging personality, sharp wit and humor made her an effective leader and she was a master at planning 16th Ward Young Democrat’s social and organizing activities. Before long, DD involved her friends, Theresa and Maureen. When Terry and her friends, Celestine Clark and Avis Sampson returned home after finishing college, she also encouraged them to get involved with the organization. The political and social events planned during this time period were fun and successful.
In 1977, Alexian Brothers Hospital was purchased by another healthcare company and the hospital staff was downsized. DD was out of work for a short period of time. It wasn’t long before she obtained a position with The Hospital of Englewood. Terry, who worked in the hospital’s Personnel Department, gave her a heads up about a newly opened position and DD got the job! At The Hospital of Englewood, DD met and became close friends with Tommy “Pops” Ellis (now deceased) and Carolyn (“Doubleknot”) Lymore. These friendships quickly transcended into loving and enduring family/friend relationships.
DD worked at The Hospital of Englewood until it closed in 1985. It took a while for her to obtain another position yet she adhered to a mandate set by her mother and the family pulled together to make things work. Edgar and the twins joined in helping DD make ends meet. In 1986, DD began work at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, where once again her humor and loving demeanor led to close friendships with two special colleagues, Patricia Brown and Patricia Maxey. DD often said that Pat Maxey was like another daughter to her and that Pat Brown was like a sister. These two earth angels would often assist in advising DD about her medical conditions and with her care. Their friendship with DD continued after DD’s retirement from Ingalls.
Around the time of her retirement, DD began to have circulation problems, which affected her mobility. She did not let these problems stop her! She and Terry shared a love for gardening, and would go on garden shopping trips all over the Chicago area. DD would take along her walker, affectionately referred to as “George;” but she would leave George in the trunk of the car and demand to have a store shopping cart to walk around the store, stating she did not want to walk around “looking like an old lady.” Terry would tease that she’d never be tagged as an old lady because she never went out in public unless she was properly made up, appropriately dressed and with her hair in place. DD would go flower shopping looking like she was going to a luncheon! When it came to gardening, however, DD would cheat a little by mixing brightly colored flowers from the dollar store in with real accent plants in the flower pots displayed on her front porch. She called her dollar store flowers “sure grows!” Terry would tease that her neighbors were going to kick her butt once they realized they were competing with someone who was faking it. To keep her ruse going for the entire season, when her initial “sure grows” would start to fade, she would immediately replace the fading fake flowers with new ones.
Even before DD welcomed her own children, she was fervently involved in the care and nurture of her younger cousins: Len (“Lenny”) Springs and Louis Parker, Jr. (brothers to Terry and Jerry). She was closely involved in the rearing of siblings born to step mother, Marie. She was the proud Aunt to her brother’s children Bradford, Angela, Nsombi and Omolara. She relished her role of “grandma,” starting with Terry’s daughter, Taryn Nicole, insisting that she refer to her as “Grandma DD!” She could not contain her joy with the birth of Anthony’s daughter and she was ever present grandma in rearing her daughter Antionette’s children Kiante, Warren and Kiniaya. She was in awe of the boundless energy of her great-grandson.
During the last five years, DD battled one serious health challenge after another. On Saturday, October 20, 2018, God chose to bring her home to join her parents, Ollie and Napoleon, brothers Edgar and Rick. She leaves to cherish her memory, the joy of her humor and the memory of her steadfast love: Uncle, Nelson Caver, Jr. of Detroit, Michigan; sisters, Taryn Springs Randle (Jack), Pamela (Derrick), Lavern, Rose; brothers, Napoleon, Jr. Robert; her children: Anthony, Antionette and Melvin; grandchildren Taryn Nicole, Adriana, Kiante, Warren and Kiniayah; great-grandson Jaivonn; many dear cousins and relatives from both sides of her family in Illinois, California, Mississippi, and Michigan; forever friends/family: Theresa Kennedy, Maureen Coats, Carolyn Lymore, Patricia Brown and Patricia Maxey; the extended family of 63rd and Morgan Street and many more.