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.