High school journalism teacher Marlene E. Adams spent her life pushing people to do better, inspiring them to believe and persuading them they could achieve.
Among them, former Coral Gables student Maxine Clark, who went on to create the international franchise Build-A-Bear Workshop.
“She taught me to think outside of the box — to push the envelope of my own creativity and to assume the best for others as well,” Clark said.
Adams, a 33-year veteran of Coral Gables High School, died Friday. She was 73 and had suffered from diabetes and heart disease.
Born in Evanston, Ill., on Oct. 4, 1939, Adams was the oldest of the seven children of Carl and Gigi Enchelmayer. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1961 and started her career as a teacher in Skokie, Ill.
She and former husband Robert K. Adams moved to Miami in the summer of 1962, and Adams began her teaching career at Coral Gables High that fall.
In the early 1970s, Adams took a paid fellowship and worked for The Miami News, laying out pages as well as writing articles.
She took her experience in the newsroom to Coral Gables High, teaching in the same classroom for nearly her entire three-plus decades and becoming a leading high school journalism teacher.
Her life lessons were also timeless for students like Clark, who shared interests such as politics, writing and, yes, teddy bears with her mentor.
“Mrs. Adams really taught me about the power of the written word,” Clark wrote in a 2009 blog. “Mrs. Adams encouraged me to take my journalistic talents to the next level — to make communication my passion.”
At Coral Gables High, Adams sponsored the school’s award-winning newspaper, Highlights, and the school yearbook, Cavaleon.
“She was larger than life,” Jonathan Adams said of his mother. “She has such personality, especially in the classroom.
“She was a fun teacher. She was a spirited teacher,” he added .
Jonathan Adams said he carries his mother’s influence with him every day.
“She taught me to question everything, and it’s my gift,” he said. “Most of us walk through life thinking all the grand assumptions are true. She taught all of us to trust our own judgment.”
Adams was an active member of several local organizations. In 1997, she founded one of the forums on Delphi.com and was a backbone of the Dictionary forum on Delphi, contributing 69,558 posts there since 2002.
She was also heavily involved in the Miami chapter of Mensa, which she was involved with for nearly half a century. According to her brother Paul Enchelmayer, Adams had an IQ of more than 135.
“Marlene Adams was special,” Miami MENSA wrote in a statement. “She was one of the small number that, in the 1960s, started the group that grew to over five hundred in its heyday.”
In addition to her son Jonathan and former husband, she is also survived by son Robertson Adams and her partner of 16 years, Lee Schwartz.
The family plans a memorial service in late October. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family asks that donations in Adams’ name be made to the Coral Gables High library and the American Diabetes Foundation.