Cover photo for Avis Irene Erickson's Obituary
Avis Irene Erickson Profile Photo
1945 Avis 2021

Avis Irene Erickson

November 4, 1945 — November 11, 2021

Avis Erickson was known by many names throughout her 76 years of life. To many, she was "Avis." To her husband, she was simply "A." To her family, she was "Mom" or "Grandma." When she scored a hole-in-one playing golf, her friends started calling her "Ace." They didn't really, but maybe she should have insisted. How many people ever hit a hole-in-one?
Avis Irene Miller
Avis was born in Ohio to Alice and John Miller on November 4, 1945. It was important to her mother that her initials mean something and so "AIM" was chosen. Along with her older brother Jack, the family moved around the country frequently during her childhood as her father worked in management for General Electric. Her senior year, she finished high school living with a friend outside of Chicago after her parents had moved to Arizona. After graduation, Avis attended one year at nearby Michigan State. During Christmas break, Avis visited her parents in Phoenix and on her second day of vacation, applied to transfer to Arizona State. She was done freezing up north. Her husband, Ron, also attended ASU, but they wouldn't meet for another few years.
Miss November
Her senior year in college, Avis began working for a bank. It was a good job that paid well and had opportunities for advancement and benefits and she absolutely hated it. On a lark, she went to a casting call for the Playboy Club and was chosen to be one of the elite bunnies of the 1970's Playboy era. In the coming years, she would work at clubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Lake Geneva. She was also selected as the November Playmate, before being asked to travel with Hugh Hefner on his infamous tour aboard the "Big Bunny" jet through Europe and Africa. She would continue to represent Hef as the lead Jet Bunny at special events around the world for several more years.
Mrs. Ron Erickson
It was on one of those special publicity events, that her decision to continue working as a Jet Bunny would change her life again. On the return flight from the Ali-Frazier fight in NYC, a young Las Vegas casino executive was escorting some gamblers back to the west coast aboard the Big Bunny. She accidentally gave away his sweater to another passenger and the two were married on their ranch in Northern Nevada in September of 1973.
Mom
Avis was thrilled to be a mom. It started when her first daughter, Britta, was born in 1976 and Avis refused to allow anyone to feed her canned baby food. Instead staying up late, making her own (way before it was trendy) to be sure that her kids only had the very best. When her second daughter, Alicia, was born in 1980, her family was complete. Although Avis only had two daughters, she was a second mom to many of her daughters' friends. Avis was always the mom to take the girls to the water park, the skating rink, sledding at Spooner or swimming at the town pool or Grover's Hot Springs. She never missed a parent-teacher conference, recital, game or tournament. She even became a substitute teacher when her kids were in elementary school, so she could be with the girls when they got home from school.
Avis the Survivor
In 2006, Avis was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. When she was diagnosed, her doctor asked her what kind of 60-year-old she was. She told him that she was the kind of 60-year-old who had just spent 3 days hiking around Zion Canyon and being anything less was unacceptable. With the help and support of her tremendous family of doctors and friends, Avis was declared cancer-free following 18 cycles of Chemotherapy and would hike at Zion and Bryce Canyon again the following year. Despite the cancer, Avis fondly remembers the 10 years she spent in Vegas as some of the best years of her life. A member and later officer for the Newcomers Club, she was fortunate to find a group of like-minded ladies who truly enjoyed life and embodied friendship. There to play Bunco or a round of golf or to make a casserole and clean the home of a friend who needed some help, Mom's ladies are never far from the hearts of her family.
Grandma
In 2012 and again in 2014, Avis became a grandmother to Dare and Danika Schultz. The kids have been the highlight of the last decade of Avis's life. From dying Easter eggs to watching basketball and skating lessons and reading stories or playing Farkle on the patio outside the nursing home, Avis's favorite moments were when she was with the kids or shopping for the kids or cooking for the kids or talking to the kids or really anything at all to do with the kids. The rest of us were pretty much just chair fillers when the kids were around, but that's ok, we think the kids are pretty great, too!
Following a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, Avis passed away November 11 at Porta Caeli House in Tulsa, Oklahoma just a week after her 76th birthday. She is preceded in death by her parents and brother and survived by her husband, daughters, grandchildren and friends.
The family has decided to hold a private family service at a later date. They also ask that in lieu of flowers, if you would like to honor Avis, please do so by making a donation to the not-for-profit hospice that cared for her and her family during her final days. https://portacaeli.org/support-our-work/donate/

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