Theresa C. (Schreppler) Adams
September 1, 1918 – September 28, 2017
Mrs. Theresa Catherine Schreppler Adams , aged 99, of Newark, DE, died on the 28th day of September 2017, 0:58 am.
Mrs. Adams was born Sept. 1, 1918, on E Patrick St., Wilmington at the home of her maternal grandparents, William and Catherine (Ryan) Paulman. She was the daughter of the late George Bernard Schreppler Sr. and Julia Catherine Paulman, both of Wilmington. She lived first with one set of grandparents and then the other in downtown Wilmington, transferring between St. Pauls and St Patricks Elementary Schools 6 times in 8 years, finally graduating 8th grade from the then new Christ Our King School in 1932. Because of this unusual childhood, she said that she learned to make do, be positive, strong willed, to pay attention and grasp new concepts quickly in class, make friends quickly and adapt to new circumstances easily. After 2 years attending the public Warner HS, she graduated 1936, from Middletown HS. Her parents had left Wilmington during the Great Depression, in 1933, and moved permanently to Middletown, to a rural, isolated mill property on Brick Mill Farm Road, which had previously been a summer home for them 1923 to 1929. Determined to go to college, she attended the University of Delaware as a commuter student, driving with her father to his work. At the University, she was elected to be in the May Court three years, and May Queen as a senior (equivalent to Homecoming Court and Queen), played intramural field hockey & basketball (no intercollegiate teams available), active all 4 years on Debate Team, Thespians (E52 Players), and student government, including Junior and Senior Class President. She graduated 1940 with a BS in Elementary Education. After completing a summer course in Special Education at Duke University, Theresa was accepted to teach in a two room elementary school, Laurel, DE in 1940.
Before graduation, she met her future husband, Leon William Adams, in 1940, when he was a resident student at the University of Delaware, President of both his senior class, as well as the Beta Epsilon Chapter house, of Kappa Alpha Fraternity. They were introduced to each other at a social event, and she would be called his Kappa Alpha rose for the next 66 years that they shared together. Leon graduated 1941- BS Agriculture, and served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II. They married July 3, 1943 in a small civil ceremony when her husband could obtain 2 days leave from Scott Field, Belleville, Illinois where he was an instructor, teaching communications. From then on, life revolved around “Lee,” and they would typically flirt with each other at the dinner table, even at aged 88 and 89. When the US Army sent him to guard the Panama Canal, and train fighter pilots, as part of the 23rd Tow Squadron, in 1943, Theresa returned to teaching in Laurel. In 1945, after honourable discharge, Leon joined Theresa in southern DE and together they built Sussex Hardware, Seaford, DE, where they sold not only hardware supplies, but DuPont paints, appliances, gifts, and toys including bicycles, and trains. They were known for assembling bicycles and trains for their customers, and for Christmas morning deliveries of purchases that were too large to be hidden. In the 1950s, Theresa returned to teaching –first in the Seaford Public Schools and later in the Newark Public Schools. For nearly 20 years, she was known as an enthusiastic, conscientious elementary school teacher, with elaborate bulletin boards and teaching aids. She would later say that she enjoyed 4th grade the most, because the students were excited to learn, and she could teach American and state history, which she loved. She instilled in her students and her family a love of learning, and promoted education as key to success in life. Her daughter and granddaughter Sarah both completed graduate degrees, and her grandson completed his undergraduate degree, all a testament to her role as educator.
In 1960, the family settled in Newark, DE and at age 40, a new business-insurance was begun. As her husband’s independent insurance agency, Leon W Adams Agency Inc., grew, she returned to school at age 52, to begin a second career, as an insurance agent. From 1971-1993, she staffed the home insurance office, while her husband travelled the state. He visited clients’ homes, his office in the DuPont Nylon Plant, Seaford, and the Travelers Insurance Co.’s offices in Wilmington, first in the old Wilmington Trust Co. building, and later their Silverside Rd office building. Clients were welcome in the Adams’ home at all hours of the day; many were also college friends, and included in the Adams’ busy social calendar of UD home football games/ tailgates, Alumni activities, theatre, golf and bridge groups.
In the 1930s, Theresa began a lifelong interest in American decorative arts, learning from family, dealers, and volunteering in the 1960s as a docent at the HF DuPont Winterthur Museum; eventually passing that love to her children. Other interests included a large and detailed flower and azalea garden, a small group of women interested in finance, called the “Dow Janes,” fundraising for Alumni Affairs and walking in UD’s graduation processional along with her husband, representing her class. She was also a seasoned traveller, who with her husband visited nearly every country in Europe, as well as China, most of the US, Canada, and Central America.
She was a devoted wife and doting mother and grandmother. She was known as an elegant and beautiful hostess, who enjoyed elaborate home entertaining, as well as for her mastery of needlepoint, petitpoint, crochet and knitting of baby blankets, patterned sweaters, hats and mittens in every size, and her encouragement of educational games and books. She and her husband strongly supported their grandchildren’s education, and attended all their graduations, piano and dance recitals, and many games, throughout their school years, whether they were in community sports, high school sports, or college sports. When her husband suffered brain aneurysms in 1992, she would devote the next two years to his physical and occupational rehabilitation, until he made a full recovery, adding 15 extra years to their lives together.
Theresa died of health problems related to dementia, and has been preceded in life by her parents; and her siblings, George B Schreppler, Jr., Louise Schreppler, Charles Schreppler and Catherine Schreppler Collins, and her husband Leon. She is survived by her son Leon William Adams, Jr., of Elkton, MD; her daughter, Theresa Catherine Adams Masek and husband, Edward A Masek Jr , of Severna Park, MD; and grandchildren, Edward (Ned) Adams Masek, Sarah Ross Masek, Afton Elizabeth Adams Smith and husband Dwayne, and 17 nieces and nephews.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 10:00 am until 11:00 am on Thursday morning, October 12, 2017, at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE. A memorial service will follow at 11:30 am at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 276 S. College Avenue, Newark, DE 19711. Interment will be held privately in Bloomery Cemetery, Federalsburg, MD.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the address listed above or to Bloomery Cemetery, c/o Gene Robinson, Treasurer, 27700 Possum Hill Rd., Federalsburg, MD 21632.