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Ezekiel Hameen was a long time Birmingham resident who has served his community for over forty years as a Chef and Restaurateur. Zeke, as he was fondly called, was born on August 8,1934 to Ben and Mattie Davis. He was the eldest son of four children born to Ben and Mattie: Johnny,Ernest (aka Pop), and younger sister, Ida, nicknamed “China”. His family was extended by two brothers/nephews and a sister/niece: Steven Wayne Davis, Johnny Davis, and Rita Murray.
Ezekiel was preceded in death by his parents, Benand Mattie Davis; brothers: Johnny Lee and Earnest (Pop) Davis, sisters: Rita Murray, Aretha Boyd, and Ida Mae (China) Davis, daughter: Marsha Stallings and grandson Krystian Hameen.
Zeke learned his caring and giving nature as well as his work ethic and entrepreneurship from his father, who retired from the Birmingham News after thirty (30) years as a printer, and his mother whose joy of cooking for the family and managerial expertise extended to opening their first neighborhood restaurant in North Birmingham. Along with working in the family business, one of Zeke’s first jobs was at THE Club Atop Red Mountain, where he learned hands on from the most celebrated chefs in the state while attending and graduating from Ullman High School.
In 1967, after returning home from California, he met and married the talented and creative Barbara Gay, who also shared his love for cooking and business acumen. They were blessed with three children, Latarsha Jones Robinson, Korey Hameen, and Jedarrie Hameen.
Brother Ezekiel emerged when serving in the Muslim faith; charged to fight racism and oppression traveling throughout our country and facilitated a group to travel to the Million Man March to Washington, D.C. Fueled with dedication, to his credit, he deferred several black men from being unjustly accused of crimes and was instrumental in getting them released from unlawful incarceration.
Zeke later accepted a job at Sloss Industries, formerly known as Jim Walter Resources, as a machinist. While there, he battled with the administration to enforce safer work measures and to alter unfair hiring and firing practices. Zeke retired from Sloss Industries with twenty-seven (27) years of service while he and Mrs. Hameen (now deceased) managed the LaVase Fine Foods Restaurant, providing jobs and on -the- job- training for culinary arts students from Lawson State Community College and Virginia College.
LaVase Fine Foods was a daily lunch and dinner stop for Rev. Frederick Lee Shuttlesworth, NAACP dignitaries and nameless, yet admirable foot soldiers seeking comfort, nourishment, and brotherhood. One of Zeke’s favorite statements was,“ I want to feed the people.”
On August 8, 2008, Zeke’s birthday, Mr. Zeke and wife, Dr Carolyn Marzette-Bolivar, a counselor and published writer, opened Z’s Restaurant on 17th Street in the Civil Rights District with the theme, “healthy food that tastes good” --- “ where people come to meet and eat.” Carolyn’s writing and promotional skills introduced Z’s as a new location with an old tradition. This involved remodeling and expanding a “vintage” building with the support of Carolyn’s father, Sidney Marzette, a celebrated builder and architect. Z’s Restaurant became a favored location for tour groups, family reunions, universities, and organizations from all over the world and out of towners were known to boast that while they could afford the meal, they would never be able to afford the amount of hospitality they felt while dining there! Many people will never forget tasting his famous Vanilla Bean Pie! Over the years, Zeke was able to feed many household names such as BB King, comedians Mike Epps, Greg Morton, Bruce Bruce, D.C. Curry; and Lavelle Crawford, alongside other traveling bands and theatrical casts seeking a home-cooked meal and to break bread with “Zeke” himself.
Mr. Zeke has starred in three film productions by Joe Williams, Director of Men In the KingdomProductions in Atlanta; co-written by his wife, Carolyn of Marzette Media Productions.
Ezekiel’s memory will forever be cherished by his family and friends. He is survived by his wife: Carolyn Bolivar Hameen, a list of family includingchildren: Pamela Davis, Latarsha (Steve) Jones-Robinson, Jedarrie (Angela) Hameen, Korey Hameen, his favorite daughter-in- law, Dr. Wilda Law Hameen, whom he believed in immensely; children in love: Marcus Bolivar and Mignon Bolivar Turner; grandchildren: Tanesha Kennedy, Kia Jones, Arthur Norcutt, III, Gavin Hameen, Justin Hameen, Shekayla Jones, Jedarrius Hameen, Nolekia McGough, Nicolas McGough, Kyler Hameen, Catelynn Floyd, and Ta’Maya Coman; grandchildren in love: Jordan and Jasmine Turner, Devon and Derek Bolivar; 11 great-grandchildren, 9 great great grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends.
Mr. Zeke received many honors for his sacrifice and diligent contributions to our community.
May his soul rest in peace.