Charleston native Moses Collis (1918-1993) became a plumber’s assistant at the age of 11 to help his parents earn money during the Great Depression. “Mosie” spent the next seven years digging ditches for a neighborhood plumber and attending school, eventually graduating from the High School of Charleston. He joined the U.S. Navy twice, first as a recent high school graduate and then again after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During World War II, he served as a pipe fitter on naval ships, eventually reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He opened a plumbing and heating business on Mill Street in Kingstree upon his return. His sister, Rebecca Collis Schreiberg (1915-2003), worked in the office.
In November 1957, he married Jennie Goldberg (1918-1990), a daughter of Charleston merchant I.M. Goldberg, who subsequently served as Collis Heating and Air’s bookkeeper and office manager. Collis later purchased land from the Schreibergs and built a showroom, warehouse, and fenced storage area at 303 West Academy Street. At this time, the business incorporated under the name Moses Collis Mechanical Contractors, Inc. Throughout the 1970s, Collis worked on projects throughout the state, including for the Department of Education and major retailers including BiLo. Jennie Collis died unexpectedly in 1990, and Mosie Collis’s poor health led to the business’s closure in 1991.
Main Image: Exterior of Moses Collis Contractors Inc., February 1973. Courtesy of Williamsburg Historical Museum, Kingstree, SC
Above Image: Moses & Jennie Collis in their showroom at Moses Collis Contractors Inc., 1958. Courtesy of Williamsburg Historical Museum, Kingstree, SC