Eddie Tarver Jr., 93, chef at seafood restaurants

January 30, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Eddie Tarver Jr., a retired restaurant cook who attracted a following at a Lexington Market raw bar, died of heart disease Friday at Sinai Hospital. The Gwynn Oak resident was 93, and leaves 108 descendants across four generations.

Born and raised in Bullock County, Ala., Mr. Tarver moved to Baltimore in 1937. He lived in the 600 block of N. Carey St. for many years.

He worked as a laborer in the 1940s in the foundries of Koppers Co. and Gibson & Kirk in Southwest Baltimore.

In the 1950s, he became a chef at the old Dubner's Restaurant on Frederick Avenue and was a seafood handler at Gordon's Crab House near Patterson Park. Family members said he rose early to make extra money icing fish, oysters and crabs for seafood dealers at the old city Wholesale Fish Market on Market Place.

"He was always a cook - liver and onions, rabbit, steamed crabs," said a daughter, Terrie Lee Tarver of Baltimore. "His sweet potato pie was just special."

About 25 years ago he took another job - one that brought him publicity and a following at Faidley's Seafood raw bar in Lexington Market. His views on seafood were quoted by local writers and a full-page photo of him appeared in a 1988 issue of Baltimore Magazine.

"Eddie Tarver was of the old school. He was kind, energetic, knew the seafood industry from A to Z," said Bill Devine, owner of Faidley's. "He was a very personable individual. He was extremely popular with our customers because of his personality. He was one of a four-man shucking team and he had his own following. He was like a good bartender."

In his free time, Mr. Tarver sang in several church choirs and traveled.

In 1932, he married Hennie Biddings, who died in 1977.

Services will be begin with a wake at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's African Methodist Episcopal Church, 810 N. Carrollton Ave., where he had been a choir member and member for more than 65 years.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include four sons, Lee Andrew Tarver, Eddie Tarver III, Ronald Nathaniel Tarver and Melvin Allen Tarver, all of Baltimore; three other daughters, Maxine Waller of Richmond, Va., and Rosa Lee Johnson and Evelyn Pearson, both of Baltimore; two brothers, Lee Andrew Tarver of Montgomery, Ala., and Henry Tarver of Baltimore; 35 grandchildren; 58 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren.

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