Mavis Estriana Ranglin (nee Walker), known affectionally as “Mama” was born on October 20, 1928 in Snowden, St. Andrew, Jamaica. She was the daughter of the late Egbert Walker and Lillian Mignott. Her parents had seven children: Lincoln (deceased), Agatha (deceased), Amos (deceased), Hubert (Jamaica, West Indies), Claire (London, England), and Violet (Rhode Island, US). Mama lived in Snowden during her younger years. Snowden is where her maternal family originated. She later moved to Llandwey, Jamaica, where she lived with her father’s sister, Cousin Vin. She went to Hagley’s Gap Primary School. She was forced to leave school in the 6th grade to help care for her siblings. Mama later became a domestic helper and relocated to Kingston.
After moving to Bull Bay she became a member of the Mount Zion Baptist Church. Mama sang soprano and was a devoted member of the church choir where she would maintain her membership and worship with the congregation during her yearly visits to Jamaica. It was in Bull Bay that Mama would meet her future husband and father of her nine children, Eric Ranglin.
It brought her so much joy when she would reflect on the chance meeting with Eric in the early 1950s. She told the story of her washing clothes at Yallahs River when she was approached by a handsome young man. She recalled the young man asking her to wash a shirt for him. He took off his shirt to let her know how serious he was, but this was all in vain. She refused, telling him there was not enough soap. He would return shortly after with soap, and she obliged. This began their courtship. They were married in December 1963.
Mama and Eric weathered many storms together, including the first literal one, Hurricane Charley in 1951. Their love and commitment kept them together as their family grew. In 1953 they welcomed their first child whom they named Pearline. The other 8, Ephraim, Valrie, Burchell, Marcia, Basil, Donovan, Desmond and Lisa would all follow.
Family was very important to Mama. She was an exceptional mother to her own children, but also, those that she raised. She also raised her youngest sister Violet until she was 14 years old. After her sister Agatha migrated to England, Mama became a mother figure to Agatha’s 5 children: Linneth, Loretta, Ann, Rudolph, and the youngest, a new born, Desmond who they called “Peter.” Eric and Mama loved their children and those placed in their care. They worked hard to ensure all the children’s needs were met. While Mama was a dutiful housewife, Eric was a farmer. Mama sold fruits and vegetables from the family farm.
In 1963 the couple founded an Elementary School, and church in the front of their two-room home. The church and the school are still operating today as the Windsor Basic School and Eleven Miles New Testament Church of God respectively. It is remarkable that Eric, who could not write his own name, and Mama, who was forced out of school in the 6th grade, could have such passion and vision for educating children. Throughout her life she continued to encourage young people to further their education, and she made time to be present for every graduation.
Until her passing, Mama would provide books and laptops to children in the Bull Bay Community. She was extremely humble, and continued this charity secretly. Today, so many young people in Jamaica are sharing the stories of how Mama helped their families.
Mama lost her husband Eric on October 27, 1982. She was now in charge of running her home. She was a “no nonsense” mother who ran a tight ship; keeping all children under “heavy manners.” Mama was a hard worker. She did anything she could, including selling fruit to make ends meet. She never stopped working for family.
Mama moved to Rhode Island in 1984 with her youngest daughter Lisa. She found work as a launderer at Cardi’s Nursing Home in Central Falls. She loved the residents and took great care to be at work every single day. Mama tells the story of taking the number 6 bus from Prairie Avenue to Central Falls. One of her favorite and hilarious stories was going to work and climbing over mountains of snow. Rain, shine, or snow, Mama was always at work. She worked hard and saved as much as she could to enable her to sponsor her other 8 children to be brought to the states. She joined the Christmas Club at work and would share how excited she was to get the money, not for gifts, but could to send clothes and food to her homeland of Jamaica.
Mama enjoyed hosting Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner at her home. She loved to cook and entertain, always playing music and dancing. She had a flair for nice dresses and never left her red lipstick. For her, nothing brought more joy than seeing her family in her home enjoying the great food she prepared. Mama is known for her cooking; she would often joke that she has been cooking for over 80 years. Going to her dinner was like going to a royal feast, Jamaican style.
Mama was known to know everything about everyone. In her family, and Jamaican community, she served as an unofficial historian. She had a memory second to none. People would rely on her for historical accuracies. She loved to smile and tell jokes. Her remarks were always filled with wit and humor.
Mama was an ardent reader. She read everything, and without glasses. She was as hip as any teenager. She had her own Facebook account, and loved to Facetime on her iPhone—but she always forgot to hang up. She knew of all the celebrity gossip before anyone else in her family. She loved politics, mostly because she was truly invested in the betterment of people. MSNBC was her favorite news channel and became campaign manager for her daughter Marcia. She also made sure that she requested her mailing ballot for the 2020 election. Mama loved to watch “Judge Judy.” Should always made sure to end calls at 4:00 o’clock because she had to watch. She never missed an episode. I bet she’s still watching right now.
Mama was invested in the well-being of everyone in her family. She kept in touch daily with a phone call. Everyone had their own time slot depending on their work schedule, and she remembered every number in her head. She did her best to ensure they worked hard and kept God first. For Mama, work and education were extremely important. She saw those as opportunities to prosper in life. On cold days, she called to remind you to wear your jacket or coat. She often called to say that your voice mailbox was full, in most cases she was the “culprit”, but would remind you to clear them out. Her voice messages always began or ended with “This is Mama.” She called for everything. Mama’s family was her full-time job. She never missed a graduation or a celebration. She was an honest person, who always told people what was on her mind, always sharing her vast knowledge and wisdom to help those who needed a lesson for the day.
Mama had the most amazing qualities. Her most admirable was loving and caring for her family. She would do anything for them, and she did. No matter the age, you never wanted for anything when she was around. If Mama couldn’t do it, she would find the person who could.
Mama went to sleep at home on her 92nd birthday surrounded by her sister Violet, and the rest of her family. She leaves behind her 9 children, 39 grandchildren, and 15 greatgrandchildren. She will be remembered for her love of family and her generous spirit. May her beautiful soul rest forever with the angels.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for your charitable donation to support a library in Mavis’ honor. Please send all donations to RI Business Development Institute, c/o Mavis Ranglin Library Fund, 3 Regency Plaza, Suite 3 East, Providence, RI 02903 or ri-bba.org
Her funeral and visitation will be held on Saturday, October 31, 2020 from 10:00 AM -11:00 AM with a service to follow at 11:00 AM in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, 475 Cranston Street, Providence, RI. Burial will be private. The guidelines set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Health will be observed and Face coverings are required at all times.