Her mother found out that Falneshia Adams was in Philadelphia only because her oldest daughter called and broke the news.

“I wasn’t going to tell,” said younger sister Shani, who knew of the plot.

Ms. Adams left her home in South Florida for the Philly skyline all those years ago because she wanted to live in the big city. So she followed her older sister Sonya.

The plan worked. She got good jobs, made tons of friends, danced up a storm, and had a beautiful daughter.

Ms. Adams, 49, died on Saturday, May 16, of the coronavirus.

“She was so full of life,” said Shani. “We loved to hang out together. She loved to dance and dress up. She said, ‘Don’t tell Mom,’ when she left, and I knew she would make it fine.”

Born as the middle of three sisters in 1971 in Orangeburg, S.C., Ms. Adams moved with her family to Pahokee, Fla., when she was young. She enrolled at Bethune-Cookman University after high school to study hotel management. She stayed there for two years until Philly beckoned.

Ms. Adams, with niece Heather, loved to spend time with her family.
Courtesy of the family
Ms. Adams, with niece Heather, loved to spend time with her family.

Once she established herself in her new home – and explained to her folks why she left – Ms. Adams worked at the old Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and then the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She made friends easily, and they had all kinds of fun.

Ms. Adams loved to drive. She learned to navigate Philadelphia by cruising the streets, and she often drove a carload of friends to the Atlantic City casinos. When the sisters took trips – Shani eventually came to Philly, too – and arranged their yearly birthday parties, Ms. Adams would usually be the chauffeur. They went to Ocean City, Md., on Jan. 5 for Ms. Adams’ 49th birthday.

A fashionable dresser throughout her life, Ms. Adams loved to mix and match outfits for just the right look. Her glasses, before she switched to contacts, even matched her clothes. Her favorite look was leopard print, and she had shoes, a bedspread, and curtains of it.

She danced with pompoms on her high school drill team and then to golden oldies in a line dance as an adult. She was the first one to rise each morning and was often dressed and ready to go while her sisters were still yawning.

Ms. Adams and her daughter E'Nieshia were close.
Courtesy of the family
Ms. Adams and her daughter E'Nieshia were close.

Her daughter E’Nieshia was born 10 years ago, and the two were peas in a pod.

Ms. Adams fell ill with the virus in late April and was hospitalized, but she and her sisters were able to talk on the phone every day for most of that time.

“We were roommates as kids all through high school, and we supported each other,” Shani said. “She was special.”

In addition to her sisters and daughter, Ms. Adams is survived by her parents, three nieces, an aunt, and other relatives. The family held a private memorial.

Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com