Avis Rebecca Moats, lovingly called Big Grams and Ma Moats by family and friends, was born on February 11, 1926 in Harlem, New York. She was the fourth of five children born to Finley and Loretta Carty. Growing up on 144th St, Avis made lots of lifelong friends. Long after they’d left “the block’ they would get together to reminisce, eat, drink and share their experiences. They will forever be known as the “144th St Crew.”
Avis married Eli Moats and from that union, Delores Lorraine was born. They moved from Harlem to 291 Monroe St in Brooklyn. Avis resided there until the day she transitioned. She graduated from Julia Richman High School and went to work as a legal secretary. It wasn’t long before she knew that position was not the career she’d envisioned for herself, so she did something about it. She enrolled in and completed a program to become a certified court stenographer. Avis made her career in the New York State family and civil court system. During their breaktime she and her coworkers enjoyed playing Scrabble. Her love and skill for the game earned her the title “the one to beat”. She continued to slay her opponents up until her last days. On August 17, 2020 Avis and Delores sat down to play. On Avis’ turn, she spelled “inquired”, used all seven tiles, covered a double word and a double letter square which gave her 92 points! Need I say more!
After decades of service, Avis packed up her steno machine and typewriter and never looked back. Mom’s love of literacy and desire to help others drew her to the Brooklyn Public Library’s Literacy program where she taught, encouraged, and supported adult education. She enjoyed the interactions she established with her students and the feeling was mutual. Her dedication was acknowledged and recognized with several awards and citations.
Avis was a true Aquarian. Her ambitious vision, intelligence, fun loving ways and willingness to help others was what she was all about. From weekends spent in D.C. with her dear friends, to cruise ships and monthly excursions to Atlantic City with Delores, Avis truly enjoyed traveling to new and different places. Just ask Omari who she whisked away to Mexico or Kobla whose adventure with Big Grams was to Egypt with Dr. Ben. Her favorite destination was Alaska (not far-fetched since we all know she enjoyed a cool breeze over a heatwave any day). Oh, What A Lady!
Music, did you say music? Then you said Avis. Boy oh boy did she love jazz but more than that she lived to dance. Toe tapping, rug cutting, call it what you will, Avis could dance up a storm. When I tell you, she was most often the first one to hit the dance floor and the last person left kickin’ up her heels-that says it all in a nutshell.
Family and friends were always welcomed. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday and she’d open the doors wide for those far and near to join in giving thanks and appreciation. Now there’s no way we’d not give center stage to her famous spaghetti dinners. That surely was finger lickin’ fun. For ninety-four years Avis embodied living life to its fullest. Our fond memories of Big Grams will forever warm our hearts and feed our spirits.
Avis is survived by her only child, Delores Lorraine, her two grandsons, Kobla Tacuma and Omari Kwesi, her six great grandchildren Jahsad, Uriah, Kaleem, Kaydin, Anari, and Khari. She truly enjoyed the loving relationships she had with her sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and friends. We must include the many young ladies and gents who adopted Avis as a role model, mentor, and respected elder.
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