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North Fork Community Remembers Jody Adams

Jody Adams, a North Fork resident who lived outdoors for much of her later life, died this past Monday.

As a woman who preferred to exist outdoors as the homeless live, Jody Adams was one of the most recognizable people on the North Fork, constantly walking the sidewalks, using public transportation and frequenting places like and local libraries. During the colder months, she would stay at homeless shelters set up at local churches by Maureen’s Haven.

Adams died at the age of 78 on June 18 at in Greenport. According to her sister, Barbara, who did not yet want to speak in-depth about her sister, Jody had been ill since around Easter of this year. In her later years, Jody became almost totally blind, walked with a cane and wore a fluorescent safety vest.

To many who knew her, Adams was a brilliant free spirit who changed their lives. Bill Maddock, a volunteer with both Maureen's Haven and John's Place homeless programs, described Adams’ spirit as “unique and powerful although sometimes a bit overwhelming.”

“Jody was a fascinating person — I was amazed to see how well she managed to get around,” he said. “A few years back when she was living at a motel in Hampton Bays, I went to visit her. Much to my surprise she was a fascinating and charming host for at least an hour and a half. When I think about Jody I know that I am a better person having interacted with her.”

Born Josephine Foster Adams on May 9, 1934, to John Foster and Frances (Jackson) Adams in Washington, D.C., Adams summered in Peconic at a cottage, still owned by her sister Barbara, overlooking Peconic Bay at the end of Indian Neck Road. She attended the University of Chicago and worked for the Screen Actor’s Guild in New York City before moving to the North Fork. She is survived by Barbara and her distant cousins, Wendy and Henry Prellwitz.

Adams would often attend Board meetings and write letters to the editor to the local papers. Kay Zegel, director of the interacted with her on a near daily basis.

“We helped her as best as we could, and she did the best she could,” Zegel said. “She was a free spirit and a bright woman and loved the North Fork. This is where she wanted to be.”

Charlene Mascia, another volunteer with local homeless programs, met Adams through Maureen’s Haven and described her as “elegant, sophisticated and very independent.”

“She was happy to engage in meaningful conversations and had much to offer to those who would listen,” Mascia said. “Yesterday out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Jody. She was well groomed and smiling brightly. Her eyes were alive with light and peace.”

A memorial service will be held June 29 at 3 p.m. at Interment will follow at in Southold. All North Fork libraries are accepting donations in memory of Adams.

Claire June 22, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Wow. When I think of Jody many things go thru my mind. She was a very intelligent lady. She also was kind. I got to know her a little bit from my place of employment. I would help her out when she came in to do some business. We’d make small talk. You definitely don’t forget Jody. She was a woman of convictions. When she believed in something – watch out! She usually got her point across. As she got older, we all were watching. It was sad to see her deteriorate and grow more frail. Her latter years she was quite recognizable by her bright orange safety vest due to her failing eyesight. Jody was also proud. Very proud. One chilly winter day I passed her while driving through Peconic and noticed she had no gloves on. I turned around, pulled over and offered her a pair. “Oh, certainly not” was her reply, but she softened it with a thank you and again made some small talk and went on her way. Only a month ago while I saw her and a few other locals sitting on the bench in front of Feather Hill waiting for the bus. I wanted to stop and take a picture. I didn’t and now I wish I had. It embodied a small snippet of what makes our town ours. Jody was a part of the Town of Southold. She definitely had uniqueness about her. We watched her through many years. I know she wasn’t always the easiest of people to get along with, but I will remember her fondly. I will miss her.
Erin Schultz (Editor) June 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Dorothy-Dean Thomas said via email: "Erin, What a beautiful piece. We don't all live perfect lives or in the ways that everyone perhaps thinks we should, but it would be a blessing to think that when we're gone someone would write such a compassionate piece, recognizing that we did make a contribution."
Erin Schultz (Editor) June 23, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Stephen Husak said on Facebook: "So many like her. Its a mystery to the reason they turn to the street."
Erin Schultz (Editor) June 23, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Loni Perrone Lewis said on Facebook: "Almost every day, Jody would come into Starbucks and have coffee and a scone, bagel or croissant . We would pour Half & Half in a small cup for her and help her to her table. Even though she would make a mess, on the days she didn't come in ...everyone would say 'has anyone seen Jody, she didn't come in today.' We would worry that she was hurt or unwell. We were all very sad to hear of her passing and will miss seeing her at her table in the mornings."
Ditty51 June 24, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Very nice piece, Erin.

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