Neville Osmond Forsythe Senior Memorial Fund
Est. 2020 by Marilyn Forsythe, Loni Richards, and Nnangasuobo Richards.
Neville Osmond Forsythe, Sr. began his culinary career while serving as a Mess Specialist in the United States Navy. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and working for several other restauranteurs, he opened his own restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
His daughter Loni Richards remembers Chef’s Underground Café as a big part of her childhood. “There was a really cool vibe. The restaurant was below the sidewalk level and so, while sitting at the tables, you could see the feet of people passing by on the sidewalk. And the food - international and Caribbean – was absolutely amazing.”
It was a family-owned and operated restaurant in which Loni along with her brother Neville II, sister Nicole, and mother Marilyn, worked before Chef’s Underground Café closed. Not long after, the family opened Mrs. B’s Reggae Café to offer the only dine-in Jamaican restaurant in the Chattanooga area. “My dad encouraged my mother to create a restaurant named after her late mother, Frances Brown. There was a stunning picture on a wall in the restaurant of my grandmother back in Jamaica wearing a long blue dress. It was like she was right there with us all the time.”
Chef, as Neville was popularly known, would drive with his wife to source special ingredients in Atlanta for the unique dishes. It was on one of these trips in 2019 that an accident claimed his life and injured Marilyn.
Loni, who also served in the Navy as an officer, was able to lead the military funeral honors for her father. She described the emotions she felt then and, later, as the family shuttered Mrs. B’s. “We wanted to do more. We knew that a funeral wasn’t how Chef would want to go out. He would want smiles and laughter so we planned a memorial service in February 2020.”
She called on her skills as the President and CEO of the nonprofit organization Service After Service, which supports the community with a focus on veterans. Some very kind friends offered the family the use of their theatre to hold a special event that raised enough money to establish this fund. Its primary focus is to offer scholarships to students who want to pursue a career in culinary arts and support Boy Scouts who struggle to participate in Scouting because of a lack of resources. “Dad was very involved in Scouting,” she said.
The family is still working to build the endowment and ensure that Chef’s legacy is permanent. “We are all very excited about how this has come together,” Loni added.
“When dad passed, we all felt it in different ways,” she said. All the siblings, Nicole, Neville II, Sam, and Loni, are closer now than ever before. “This was a perfect way to preserve his memory and share his legacy with others. Establishing this fund has been empowering and continues to bring us together every day, just like how dad’s food brought loved ones together in his restaurant.”
Established in 2020 as a designated fund by the family of Neville Osmond Forsythe in his memory. This fund will support Boy Scouts of America, Troop 43 in Chattanooga, TN, and will provide a scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America.
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