Phyllis Stevenson Adams, 95, died at her residence at Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, NC, on October 4, 2016. Her daughter and her beloved grandsons were with her in her final days. Phyllis was born in Richmond, VA, on July 28, 1921, to William Blake Stevenson and Sadie Lucinda (Hubbard) Stevenson. She married E. Maynard Adams on December 22, 1942. They were married nearly 61 years and had two children, Steven Maynard Adams (deceased) and Jill Elaine Adams (Makanda, IL). In addition to her daughter, Phyllis is survived by her two grandsons who loved her dearly, Adam Hartley Alexander (Seattle, WA) and Nathan Blake Alexander (Arcata, CA), a number of nieces and nephews, including Lisa Jordan Pearce (Charlotte, NC) who visited her frequently, including in her final days, and a devoted friend who could always make her laugh, Jenny Kitzmiller (Chapel Hill, NC). Her sister, Doris Stevenson Jordan, and her brother, William Blake Stevenson, Jr., predeceased her.
As a child, Phyllis was a self-described tomboy and recounted tales of riding her brother’s bicycle that had no brakes down the steepest hills she could find and flying down a jerry-rigged zipline her brother had installed in backyard trees. In high school, she ran track and was captain of the girls’ basketball team, lettering in both sports.
In the early days of their marriage, Maynard and Phyllis lived in Rochester, NY, Cambridge, MA, and Athens, OH. During World War II, while living in Cambridge, Phyllis worked at the Naval Liaison Office of the Radiation Lab at M.I.T. She and Maynard moved to Chapel Hill in 1948 when Maynard joined the philosophy department at UNC.
In Chapel Hill, Phyllis became an avid Tarheel fan. She was active in the Oakview Garden Club and the Junior Service League. When her children grew older, she returned to work and was secretary of Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill for twenty-one years. When she retired, the Chapel Hill Radio Station, WCHL, declared a “Phyllis Adams Appreciation Day,” reading a tribute to her from a student, parent or teacher every hour.
In her retirement, she volunteered with Meals on Wheels and spent as much time as she could with her grandchildren, who brought her endless joy. She loved bridge, crossword puzzles and other word games. She always expressed interest in everyone she met and greeted strangers and friends alike with her warm smile. Her family would particularly like to thank the staff and nurses of Building 7 at Carol Woods Retirement Community for the loving care and respect that they showed her at the end of her life. A celebration of her life is planned for a later date.
Memorials may be made to NC Nature Conservancy, 334 Blackwell St #300, Durham, NC 27701; Charles House Association, 7511 Sunrise Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514; or to Interfaith Council for Social Service, 110 W. Main St., Carrboro, NC 27510.