Before he founded Amazon and before he was the richest person in history, Jeff Bezos was a fourth grader at River Oaks Elementary School in Houston.
Jenise Raven’s mom, Celestine Barnes, was the billionaire’s teacher back in the 70’s.
“Every time he comes on TV or she hears his name, she always goes, ‘I taught Jeff Bezos. I remember him’,” said Raven.
Barnes had a long career with HISD. She was one of the first black teachers at River Oaks Elementary. Her family says she continued to teach for over 30 years.
Now, the educator is retired with her 80th birthday right around the corner.
“I got the idea just as I went to bed last night to contact some of her old students. It just hit me, how amazing would it be if we could contact Mr. Bezos and have him write a birthday greeting for her? We would read it at her celebration on February 3,” her daughter said.
Other former students have already sent notes. Some even plan to attend the party.
However, a message from Bezos would be different.
Even though Barnes suffers from dementia, she still clearly remembers the Amazon CEO after all these years.
“I think she would be extremely, extremely elated. I can see her now,” said Raven. “She’s going through a change that is very hard for us to relate to. But we’re working through it. Sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying, but I need her to know she’s special, not only to me but to all the people she touched throughout her journey.”
Even though the Amazon CEO now has a seat at the table with some of the world's most powerful people, she hopes he still remembers sitting in Mrs. Barnes class more than 40 years ago.