HOUSTON – A well-loved businessman and community leader, Carroll Oliver, was honored for his life's generosity and work to empower a community. After senseless gun violence took his life in 2016, community members, Houston's mayor and his family were determined to make sure his story would be told for generations.
While the McDonald's near I-10 and Lockwood in the 5th Ward appears to look like any other McDonald's, in this neighborhood, the franchise was a leadership laboratory. At the helm of that McDonald's was franchisee owner and operator, Carroll Oliver.
"His commitment was all about people and giving back in his community," Stephanie Oliver-Parrish, Oliver's daughter, said.
Oliver built his legacy, helping to feed those who were hungry, investing in youth through giving scholarships or jobs and providing guidance and opportunities to those who needed them the most. However, in 2016, Oliver, 68 was gunned down in the parking lot of his 5th Ward McDonald's location.
While his family could have easily closed the doors of the location, instead, they were more determined to continue Oliver's life work.
"It was only right that my family felt that we had to continue to help them educationally, to help them financially, to help them raise their children," Parrish-Oliver said.
After nearly four years of efforts by his family, community leaders and the mayor, Saturday marked a big milestone after Oliver's death. Carroll Oliver, a pillar of the Houston Community life, was commemorated with a street dedication next to one of his restaurants. Mayor Sylvester Turned unveiled Oliver Carroll Way, recognizing the impact and influence Oliver's life had on the greater 5th Ward community,
"Naming Callis Street to Carroll Oliver Way is a fitting tribute to a man who carved his own path, and always lived life in the right direction," Turner said.
"My heart felt a special beating and a special flutter, and I knew I could say, ‘You know, Dad, you definitely can rest in peace. Job well done," Parrish-Oliver said.
Throughout the dedication, various members of the community described how Oliver had a positive influence on the people and the community he served.
"He motivated me to make a difference," said Stacy Joseph, a former employee of Oliver. "Not only in my life but in the lives of everyone I would come in contact with."
In addition to motivating others, Oliver served in several capacities where he was able to donate to single mothers and children. Oliver also granted numerous high school students with scholarships, so they could pursue college.
"He helped me receive a Ronald McDonald's Scholarship to go to college. That really had a huge effect on me," Avery Toliver, a recipient of Oliver's scholarship, said. "He made going to college a little bit easier and for that I will always be grateful."
Joseph started working at McDonald's mopping floors. However, the lessons he learned from this visible leader took through life.
"Not only did I have a chance to see up close and personal a black man, a caring man, a giving man...a role model for this community. He exemplified a life far better than what drugs or the street would offer," Joseph said.
Joseph is now a seasoned education administrator and worked to spread what he's learned.
"I take those same leadership qualities that Mr. Oliver instilled in me. I'm visible. I'm approachable. I shake hands. I talk," Joseph said.
Carroll's life is remembered on the new Oliver Carroll Way, but more than ever through the warmth and generosity, he has shown members of his community and everyone he came to meet.
"When kids who come from communities like 5th Ward come down this street and ask who was this person -- you can tell the story from generation to generation," Turner said.