The Otey family legacy: Zion New Jerusalem celebrates families

(l-r) Ruby Otey; Betty Otey; Richard Jones; John Otey, Jr.; Rev. Walstone Francis; Mrs. Angela Otey Francis; Rev. Inman Otey; Thenita Jones; and Monique Otey Patton.

(l-r) Ruby Otey; Betty Otey; Richard Jones; John Otey, Jr.; Rev. Walstone Francis; Mrs. Angela Otey Francis; Rev. Inman Otey; Thenita Jones; and Monique Otey Patton.

Zion New Jerusalem Church celebrates families through the word of God in preaching, teaching and ministries for the coming of ‘Christ, the second time’ in spirit, in truth, and in love unto all people and nations (Hebrews 9:28; John 4:23-24: 1John 4:16; and Matthews 24:14).

During the assembly, Rev. Inman Otey honored family ancestors and their legacies as scripture instructs us in Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother,” and also in Leviticus 19:3 and Deuteronomy 5:16. Family Recognition during this service was that of the late Mattie Green and Flem Otey, Sr. Their children’s legacy and names were recognized by a grandson, John Otey, Jr. They were Flem, Elizabeth, William, John, Richard, and Ford.

The family legacy for 110 years has been in the grocery and real estate business, so everyone was able to work and earn a living. They all worked at I.E. Green Grocery on the corner of 18th Ave. No. and Jefferson St. started by their uncle, Rev. Inman E. Green, in 1904. John, Jr. related the story that someone once asked their uncle about all of them working for him and he said, “I would rather have them work for me, than have me work for them.”

John Otey, Jr. continued the legacy in real estate by opening Otey’s Real Estate Agency in 1960 and expanding and redeveloping the 1801 Jefferson St. property into a modern commercial complex, the Otey Center on February 6, 2002. The center continues a 110-year family ownership history. John Jr.’s father operated Otey’s Cash and Carry at 28th and Albion St. in addition to a construction company. He would also go regularly to the farmer’s market around the courthouse square at 5 am to buy produce and carry it to all the Otey grocery stores. This included the grocery at 26th and Jefferson St. operated by William Otey, Jr. a nephew of Flem, Jr. and John, Sr. Bill Otey, as he was best known, went on to build and open in 1953 the El Dorado Motel and dinner club with his partner, George Driver. Bill passed in 1992 and his son Alan Amechi (Meschi) Otey, continued to operate the business until 2007. The buildings were razed in 2012.

The grocery business legacy at 18th and Jefferson St. was continued by Rev. I. E. Green’s nephew Flem Otey, Jr. who bought I.E. Green Grocery in 1935 and renamed it Otey’s Quality Grocery. At his passing in 1962, sons Flem III and Inman continued to operate the store at 18th, adding a supermarket located in the Cumberland Park Shopping Center.
When the Metro-Center development rerouted the essential traffic flow away from in front of the shopping center—Inman, who then owned the supermarket, and other shareholders owning the Center, had to close the grocery business, the center ownership, and his other enterprises in 1982.

Other family members in attendance for the church celebration services included: Ruby Otey; Angela Otey Francis, (Rev. Walstone); Betty Otey, (John, Jr.); Monique Otey Patton; Sherri Otey Cone (Dr. Cecil and children); Thenita Jones, and her son, Robert Jones; Rev. Inman; Velma, Valeri and Ron Otey. The many descendants of Mattie Green and Flem Otey, Sr. are honored to have served in the military, in education, as governmental officials, providers of healthcare and for various public and private agencies, businesses and institutions. Several of these family descendants have been honored in previous family recognitions.

Rev. Walstone E. Francis, pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church in Waukegan, Illinois—a family member, gave the message. His message theme was: ‘Why Trust God?’ from Psalm 3:1, 6, 14, 19. He emphasized that this psalm should inspire us to believe in God. Our faith should not be shaken. Trust means to have reliance on God. Fidelity shows God is unquestioned. And that He is our refuge and is always reliable. He also reminded the congregation that God never depreciates, and never deceives us. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, transcendent, sovereign, eternal and self-existent. God’s resources will never be depleted.

Zion New Jerusalem Church meets at 2223 Morena St. (24 Ave. No. at Morena St.), Nashville, Tenn. 37208, on the first and third Sundays.

The church service begins with a 11:30 am, with brunch and the Celebration Service from noon until 1:45 pm. Phone: 615-321-5672.