Gordon Howard Adams

Gordon Howard Adams Jr.

A Rural Character of the highest degree, Gordy Adams, 71, died peacefully at his home in Clinton on August 11, with his family by his side, after ten years of courageously persevering through medical challenges and continuing to live life to the fullest.

Gordy was born March 28, 1944, second son to Gordon and Helen Adams in Toledo, Ohio, where he spent his early childhood until he moved with his family to the Chicago area.

He began dating Kitty in 1961 after the first dance of their senior year at New Trier High School. In 1966 he graduated from Illinois Wesleyan with a teaching degree in physical education.

After four years of attending colleges 800 miles apart, Gordy and Kitty married on the first Saturday following graduation. They volunteered for the Peace Corps, teaching school for two years in Botswana, which changed the course of their lives.

Gordy and Kitty returned to Ill. where Gordy taught a semester of high school economics and P.E. before working in a corporation as supervisor of manpower development and training. Increasingly dissatisfied with suburbia, they traded their station wagon for a Volkswagen camper, sold the house, and with their two young children set out in the summer of 1974 to find a meaningful and sustainable lifestyle. After four months on the road, they found what they were looking for on Whidbey Island: a small farm on which to live close to the land and grow their own food, a beautiful environment and a community of folks who shared similar values.

Gordy labored at odd jobs while learning farming and house-building skills, and then was employed as a carpenter for 26 years before becoming disabled. He was proud to be a productive working-class craftsman and enjoyed working hard physically, but taking care of the farm was where he found his most contentment.

Music ran deeply through Gordy’s veins. He loved singing and felt great satisfaction in bringing joy to others through his music, whether around a campfire, in the church choir, or harmonizing with the Shifty Sailors and Rural Characters. During his long illness, music inspired him to carry on and provided the fellowship he needed.

Gordy loved the adventure and education implicit in travel. He lived in Botswana and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, took family road trips in the Volkswagen camper, sang with the Shifty Sailors in the Balkans and Prague, traveled with Kitty to Ghana, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and returned to Botswana in 2004. His sense of wonder was evident as he took the family on many detours to explore historical landmarks; he knew the journey was at least as important as the destination.

Gordy was a gifted athlete. As a student he was a baseball and basketball star. In his adult years, he played tennis weekly until he tore his achilles in 2000, and he enjoyed the challenge of golf. Swimming, sailing and fishing in Deer Lake were favorite pastimes, as was watching sports on TV. An avid Falcons, Cubs, Bears and Mariners fan, Gordy was never too busy to share his love of sports with his children, and he had a passion for coaching basketball. For him the love of the game and life lessons learned were more important than winning.

Gordy helped with 4-H projects and created family traditions that were treasured by many in the community, such as the Turkey Bowl and the Christmas Eve candlelight barn service. He was well informed about the issues of the day, ready to debate politics from his liberal viewpoint, and was involved in peace and justice and land use issues. He was active in the Langley United Methodist Church and through the years volunteered in many community organizations including Hearts and Hammers, WICA, and WIN.

Before his first brain tumor, Gordy was good at and knowledgeable about a wide variety of things; he could pick you off at first, build you a home from foundation to roof, grow his own food, play and sing by ear, and he was the life of any party. After Gordy lost many of his physical and mental abilities and desires, we focused on what he still could do and enjoy, like sing, soak and socialize in the hot tub at IAC, play marimba, attend community events and connect with people. His intensity, enthusiasm for life and desire to engage continued with valiant determination. The strength of his character and the beauty of his kind, loving soul touched many. The love and support of his wife, family, and community kept his spirits high. We will be forever grateful for the encouragement given to us through these difficult and precious years, and to WGH Hospice for their compassionate care and support so he could remain at home. He was happy to be alive and remained the author of his own story.

Gordy strove to base his actions on the spirit of love and he loved his family above all else. He was most proud of his three children, and his six grandchildren were his “greatest joy since having my kids.” He believed that the most important thing in life is “mutual love” which he shared deeply with Kitty, his wife of 49 years.

Gordy will be deeply missed by his beloved wife Kitty, his children Jennifer Gochanour (Donny), Christopher Adams (Lisa), and David Adams (Katie), his six grandchildren Bayley, Kellen, Brady, Lucy, Cora, and Isla, his brother Dave Adams (Jackie), and a vast community of wonderful friends and relations he valued and loved dearly. His light will continue to shine brightly in the hearts of the many lives he inspired.

Please join us to celebrate Gordy’s life at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

In recognition of Gordy’s love of South Whidbey, please consider a donation to heartsandhammers.org or your favorite community organization. Family and friends are encouraged to share stories and memories at www.caringbridge.org/visit/gordyadams/guestbook.

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