Life Sketch of Gradiah Watkins
JUNE 25, 1996 – MARCH 26, 2021
Gradiah Watkins was welcomed into this world by his parents, Lois Whea and Anthony Watkins on June 25, 1996 in Brooklyn, New York. Gradiah was a loving child that grew into a young man that loved God and loved people. He was never afraid to express himself, but always careful not to offend others with his words, never wanting to hurt their feelings. He grew up with four siblings: his sister Sandra Watkins, and three brothers, Loid Whea, Anthony Watkins, Jr. and Emmit Grant whom he loved deeply, along with his best friend and cousin, Edmund Roberts.
Gradiah’s early years in school were adventurous and fun like most kids, but it was at Curtis High School where he began to excel academically and became involved in community service. He was a member of Arista, Chess Club, Law Club and the Key Club where he served with passion. Every Thanksgiving he volunteered to feed the homeless and took it upon himself to clean up litter around the neighborhood. He went on to join the Asian Club, because he loved diversity and embraced cultures outside of his own. Gradiah had a brilliant mind - he was a straight A student and graduated with honors. True to form, he used his skills to tutor his younger cousin, Makoyah in Math, Science and English.
After High School, Gradiah attended Oakwood University and the College of Staten Island, majoring in Biology. He first aspired to be an anesthesiologist, prior to realizing that his love for public service and the intense desire to change policy and legislation would serve his community better. He quickly switched majors and pursued a career in law. He held the position of Assistant Treasurer of the Oakwood University NAACP Ambassador Chapter from 2015-2016. He was always taking on a challenge, to be better and do better, and later taught himself Spanish, German and Italian. He participated in the performing arts program while at the College of Staten Island, as well as played tennis, guitar and piano; and caught everyone by surprise when he became a member of a Quilting Club.
Gradiah’s spiritual foundation was laid at the Manor Road Seventh-Day Adventist Church. He was baptized by Pastor Andrew Dyman in 2011, sharing the baptismal pool with his cousin Imani, and was a faithful member of the Pathfinder Club which helped nurture and expand his love of nature, biology and community service. Faith and family played major roles in Gradiah’s early years that would later become the motivation that formed him into the selfless person he became as an adult. He wanted to start a farm in Liberia to help make the people more self-sufficient. Gradiah was a great protector of family and a defender of those without a voice, regardless, of how they treated him. He refused to allow people to speak bad about others, in his presence. He was always the life of the party, full of energy and loved dancing and singing. A creative being in every sense, he took a stab at fashion by adapting his own unique style of dressing. He was a skilled debater with knowledge, rare facts and information that would intrigue everyone that found themselves in a conversation with him.
It was the simple things in life that brought Gradiah joy. He loved coffee, hot cocoa, and peppermint tea, but most of all, he loved his mother’s cooking. No one could lift his spirits when he was down like his grandmother, Comfort Whea; the stories she so lovingly shared with him created a special bond between them. He loved taking long walks alone, or with others. One of the last photos taken of him was during a walk with his mother in Silver Lake Park. He had beautiful hazel eyes and often, jokingly, bragged about being the best-looking of all his mother’s children. He loved sitting with his mom and lovingly call her mamacita, mother and drilling her with questions. There was this unquenchable thirst for knowledge that seemed to be a driving force in his young life. He would have made Alex Trebek proud as he watched Jeopardy with such concentration, and answered the questions from his home, like he was a contestant on the show.
On March 26, 2021 Gradiah made his transition from earth at the budding age of 24. Although his time here was short, he lived a life filled with adventure and touched countless hearts and lives along the way.
Gradiah is survived by: His mother, Lois Whea; Father, Anthony Watkins, Sr.; Siblings: Sister, Sandra Watkins; Brothers: Loid Whea, Anthony Watkins, Jr., and Emmit Grant; Grandmother, Comfort Whea; Step-Father, Ederick Grant; Aunts and Uncles: Christian, David (Namso), Noelyn Richardson, (Lardner), Quita Roberts (Kolubah), Emmanuel (Helena), Aletee (Fred) and Phillip Whea (Doris); Cousin/Best Friend: Edmund Roberts; Cousins: Grashay Roberts, Makoyah Kenneh, Louise Mulbah, Kolu, Torries, and his dear Ella; Miranda (adopted sister), Nathaniel Augustave (friend) and a host of numerous cousins, relatives, family, and loved ones, here in America and Liberia that will sorely miss him.
Gradiah Watkins loved deeply. May the seeds of time and love that he sowed unselfishly into family, friends and strangers, grow into strong productive lives that will pay it forward. May we all treat each other with acts of kindness and gratitude, in remembrance of this young life that left us all, far too soon. May you rest in peace, Gradiah, until Jesus comes again.
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