Monday, March 1, 2010

Updated: Open Memorial for Lettie Oliver

This morning, our State lost an irrepressible, gregarious, compassionate, and tireless advocate for working people and humanity at large.

Lettie Oliver passed at 7:58 a.m. this morning at Community East Hospital due to complications from an asthma-induced cardiac arrest.

Ms. Lettie served as the Associate Director for AFSCME Local 62, but anybody who knew her understood that, while she loved her job, she was more than her job title.

In 2007, the Indiana Commission on Women gave Lettie its Torchbearer Award, noting:

Lettie Oliver represents 10,000 public workers in central Indiana in her role as Associate Director of Council 62 of AFSCME (Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees). Considered a “voice of organized labor” and a strong advocate for women workers, Ms. Oliver has been named to a number of prestigious boards and committees including Mayor Bart Peterson’s blue-ribbon Advisory Panel to comment on Indianapolis Works.

Ms. Oliver serves currently on the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Private Industry Council, a premier workforce development entity. While Lettie Oliver represents organized labor well in the Board room and committee table, she always has time for her members and is know for her inclusiveness of all persons.

Ms. Oliver has continued to be a strong force in the labor union even during a personal family crisis. She has made it her life’s work to educate the women of AFSCME Council 62 in the areas of politics and organizing and has been a powerful force in sharing her knowledge with others for the betterment of all. Ms. Oliver is on the steering committee of the Indiana Chapter of Women Work, an organization dedicated to gaining equitable economic opportunities for women.

She might have met her maker as we all do in death, but did she ever meet her match in life? I seriously doubt it.

City-County Councillor Maggie Lewis stated, "Death is a part of life, but this pain, this sting, will be felt in our community for a long time."

I am certain I cannot do justice to Ms. Lettie, and I invite you to post your best memory or fondest sentiments.


The viewing for Ms. Lettie will be at Crown Hill Memorial Chapel on tomorrow, March 4, from 5 pm to 8 pm (700 W. 38th Street). The service will be at Eastern Star's main campus, 5750 E. 30th Street, with doors open at 10:00 a.m. and the service starting at 10:45 a.m. The burial at Crown Hill will be private, but repast will be at the IBEW 481 Union Hall at 1828 N. Meridian Street from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Those who would like to share a memory of Lettie will be able to speak from the podium.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the “L. Oliver Family- Memorial Trust” and addressed to Council 62 at 1424 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis 46202 or Tehea Harding’s home address (6114 Cheshire Rd, Indpls., 46241).

Congressman Andre Carson offered the following tribute: "Lettie was a great leader and freedom fighter in the traditions of Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chislom, Julia Carson and countless others."



Lori said...

I don't believe that she EVER met her match in life.

She is missed.

Anonymous said...

I just hope before I leave this earth that I can do just a fraction of the good that Lettie did for her fellow citizens. What an amazing woman.

Anonymous said...

I have many memories of Lettie and her family. I counted her as a trusted advisor and friend, as did many other elected officials, and wannabe elected officials. In a previous life, I sat across the table from her as a member of "management" and though we had a disagreement on the issue at hand, the environment never waivered from making a determination of what was best in the interests of all parties. When you walked into Lettie's home you were family, which meant she felt free to put you to work. She made our community and our state a better place by simply being Lettie. I'll miss her greatly.

Anonymous said...

We love and will miss you Lettie.

Indianapolis Professional


Local 416

Anonymous said...

I first met Lettie about 4 years ago, and ever since then, I see her everywhere. The halls of the statehouse and almost every event, meeting, rally or parade. She was a tireless advocate; passionate about children, families, and working conditions. To her family, thank you for sharing your mother us.

John Barnes said...

I've never met anyone who was such a tireless advocate for "the little guy"...she championed working families, women in the workplace, people of color, recent immigrants...those who didn't have the strong voice and towering presence that she used so effectively were grateful for her advocacy.
Once, when I commented to her that I was amazed that she could get to so many meetings and that she seemed to be everywhere at once, she told me her secret. She smiled and said, "I don't usually stay at any meeting for more than 15 minutes!"
One thing was true about Lettie -- once she attended your meeting and then moved on, her presence never left that meeting.
Rest well, Lettie...may God reward you amply for all you have done for His people...

Charles said...

Lettie was Queen Esther of Indianapolis, and Indiana. I had the priviledge of meeting Lettie in 2008, during Labor 08. From the moment I arrived in Indianapolis it was obvious who was in charge. She worked tirelessly, everyday, all day for the duration of the election campaign. She had a loud bark, but a soft heart for people and especially for the voiceless. She carried a big stick, but also harness a big smile that would illuminate any room she was in. When I heard about her homegoing today, I paused to think about the many memories I have of the gentle giant.

Lettie you have made me evaluate what is important in Life. Thanks for everything you did to help me while there in Indiana.

sandymda said...

Just an amazing woman, I was very lucky to have her as my mother-in-law. I will always love her.