"One of her most prized contributions was advocating for the Civil Rights Movement through feeding those on the front lines of the struggle for human dignity," the statement continued. "She saw her role and that of Dooky Chase's Restaurant to serve as a vehicle for social change during a difficult time in our country's history. Throughout her tenure, Leah treasured all of her customers and was honored to have the privilege to meet and serve them."
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Chase, who married her late husband, Edgar "Dooky" Chase Jr., in 1946, converted her husband's family's sandwich shop into New Orleans' "first white-tablecloth restaurant for black patrons," The Associated Press reported. The restaurant, named after her father-in-law, hosted black and white civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, during segregation and became a cultural institution, WWL-TV reported.
More recently, two presidents – Barack Obama and George W. Bush – ate there, according to the station.
Public figures, celebrities and colleagues flocked to social media to share their memories of Chase and offer condolences to her family.
"While we mourn her loss, we celebrate her remarkable life, and cherish the life lessons she taught us," the family statement concluded. "The Family will continue her legacy of 'Work, Pray, and Do for Others.'"
In lieu of flowers, Chase's family is requesting donations to the Edgar L. "Dooky" Jr. and Leah Chase Family Foundation at P.O. Box 791313, New Orleans, LA, 70179.
Read more here.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.