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Edgar 'Dooky' Chase III, New Orleans patriarch, dead at 74

Head of the Chase Family since 2019, the seasoned businessman and educator died on Wednesday, according to his family's foundation.


Edgar “Dooky” Chase III, the patriarch of one of New Orleans’ most prominent families, died Wednesday at 74, according to a statement released by the family. No cause of death was announced.

“Dooky was a lifelong educator and university administrator that educated and mentored thousands of students and young professionals. He was a principled man, who was joyfully dedicated to being of service to others,” his family said.

“Dooky was filled with passion and faith which was exhibited in his daily life and in his interactions with others.”

Born in 1949, the Black Catholic businessman and community leader was the son of Edgar “Dooky” Jr. and Leah Chase. The two were the founders of the New Orleans mainstay Dooky Chase Restaurant, serving Creole fare for decades in Tremé, the nation’s oldest Black neighborhood.

Chase III was educated at Jesuit High School and studied law at Loyola University New Orleans before obtaining an MBA from Columbia University. He later served in the Marines and worked at Price Waterhouse & Company as well as Cox Communications before transitioning to education.

Chase served as dean of Dillard University’s business division in the 1980s and 90s, ascending to a vice president position that he held during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He helped lead rebuilding efforts and served on a number of boards in the city, both religious and secular. 

He retired from Dillard in 2009 and was named Jesuit High’s alumnus of the year in 2012. He received the Integritas Vitae Award from Loyola New Orleans in 2021, after which he shared with The Clarion Herald about his lifelong Catholic faith.

“Every night, my mother would have us kneel and say the rosary. I would look forward to it,” he said.

“We would go to confession every week, too, and Mass on Sundays.”

Following the deaths of his parents in 2016 and 2019, respectively, Chase III became the patriarch of a family known in Louisiana and around the country for their impact on Southern culture and food, as well as for their philanthropic efforts through the Chase Family Foundation.

Tributes have poured in for Chase from various friends and public officials, including New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell, who said the city has “lost a giant.”

“[He] devoted his life to civic engagement, activism, and empowerment. Advocating for change on the local, state and regional levels, he always kept community at his core.”

Chase is survived by his wife of 50 years, Alva Jean Darensbourg, and three children—including the noted chef Edgar Chase IV. No funeral arrangements have yet been announced. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Chase Foundation in Chase III’s honor.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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