Alva Cheek Adams, 91, of Philadelphia, a longtime Baptist church worker and minister’s wife, died Friday, Oct. 25, at Phoebe Wyncote, a retirement community in Montgomery County, of complications from a fall.
Mrs. Adams was born to General and Marian Cheek in Germantown in 1928. She was raised in a Christian home and baptized at Corinthian Baptist Church of Germantown at age 7, her family said.
She graduated from Germantown High School. After a whirlwind courtship, she married Charles E. Adams in 1954.
Mrs. Adams worked as a secretary at the U.S. Census Bureau and then the Veterans Administration in Philadelphia until leaving in 1961 to start a family. She and her husband had two children, whom they raised in West Oak Lane.
Mrs. Adams was a member of Corinthian Baptist Church with more than six decades of service. “We’re proud of her,” said church office manager Viola Pryor. “We’re extremely grateful for the time she spent with us. She will be dearly missed.”
Mrs. Adams taught the beginners’ Sunday school class for at least 60 years, starting at age 14. She served for many years as Corinthian’s Vacation Bible School director.
In the 1960s, Mrs. Adams and two friends started the Choral Ensemble. In her later years, she sang with the Corinthian Choir, which replaced the ensemble. She was a founding member and president of the church’s Christian Service Guild, and served as the church historian.
“Her contributions are all a part of who she was. She was a vital part of our women’s ministry,” Pryor said. “She knew the church history and made sure we remembered the events because she could recall them. She had pictures and artifacts.”
As a colleague, she was witty, Pryor said. "She was very precise, but she had a twinkle in her eyes. When you saw the twinkle, you knew the wit was coming.”
In 1969, when her husband began preaching, she embraced the role of minister’s wife. After his ordination in 1971, he became associate pastor at Corinthian. “They were a team,” Pryor said.
She joined the Baptist Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows Union of Philadelphia and Vicinity and was the organization president in 1996. She represented the local union in visits throughout the United States, and to Canada and the Caribbean.
She joined the International Association of Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows in 1972 and attended each annual conference as a local union representative with her husband until 2013, when he became ill. In 2010, she was inducted into the international group’s Hall of Fame.
Mrs. Adams was a member of the Germantown Congress, Eastern District Congress, and Pennsylvania State Congress of Christian Education, a Baptist group, for many years. She also supported the Pennsylvania Eastern District Congress Camping Foundation.
Family was important to Mrs. Adams. “As a wife, she loved her husband and supported his quest to obey the call of God in his life,” her relatives said in a tribute. “As a stay-at-home mother, she worked tirelessly to ensure that her children were well-fed, groomed, educated, and raised in the spirit of the Lord.”
Mrs. Adams was a listener and teacher. She made herself available to those needing compassion and support. While teaching Sunday school, she imparted many life lessons over the years. Some of the students still remember the lessons, her family said.
Besides her husband, she is survived by son Charles L.; daughter Vanessa A. Porter; a nephew; and an extended family.