Tina M. Ayer

Tina M. Ayer, 33; loved -- and lived -- rock 'n' roll

She was known as Mrs. T.

It was because of all the gold jewelry Tina M. Ayer would wear every day -- crosses and pendants hanging around her neck and a ring on each finger, just like Mr. T, the TV star from the '80s.

Did she have any favorites? "They were all her favorites," says her 15-year-old daughter, Kayla Marie D. Abbenante Ayer.

With the jewelry and the blond highlights in her black hair, the diminutive Ms. Ayer, 33, was hard to miss. And impossible to ignore.

"She loved to talk," said Kayla, as she, her aunt, Desiree Phillips, and a friend recounted stories. "She was so outgoing."

Born and raised in Warwick, Tina lived with her daughter in the Oakland Beach section of the city. She also had an 8-year-old son, Daniel N. White.

Kayla and Tina were more like friends than mother and daughter.

Kayla remembers when she got her tongue pierced last year. Her mother came with her and even joked that she'd get hers pierced too.

"But she looked through the window watching me get it done, and she was crying she was so scared," said Kayla.

She was generous and compassionate, but it was her goofiness that was so endearing, said Phillips.

Tina loved rock 'n' roll, especially those '80s "hair bands" and metal groups. She'd often go to karaoke bars to sing their songs and even sang at her brother's wedding.

She loved that rock star image, too. When she wasn't at her job at the Fairfield Inn, in Warwick, she'd put on a pair of Levi's and a leather jacket and ride Harley-Davidsons with her friends. She dreamed of buying her own bike one day.

"She was definitely a Harley babe," said Phillips.

Kayla fidgeted with the rings on her fingers as she listened. Some were her mother's.

Tina was wearing most of her jewelry the night of the fire. Her father, Steven W. Ayer, has it now.

Kayla says when she gets it back, she'll take off all her own jewelry and wear her mother's.

"And then she'll be Mrs. T junior," said Phillips.

-- Alex Kuffner, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003