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SMU Remembers Gerri Adams

Gerri Adams

The Samuel Merritt University (SMU) community mourns the passing of Geraldine (Gerri) Adams, Facilities Coordinator, who passed away on Friday, May 8, at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) following her battle with cancer.

A native of Mississippi, Gerri moved to California as an adult and worked at ABSMC as an Accounts Payable Clerk for ten years and later transferred to the University where she held positions in Accounts Payable, Purchasing, and Facilities over the past 15 years. 

Longtime friend and coworker, Carla Ross, Director of Alumni Affairs, says Gerri was the type of person who made friends easily and was considered the 'go to girl' on campus when something was needed.

"Even if what was needed was not in her area of responsibility, she did it, and always with a smile.  Gerri's commitment to the University, her belief in the Golden Rule and doing the right thing simply wouldn't allow her not to be of service."

The last six months was a struggle for Gerri, but she wouldn't let that stop her from coming to the University and doing her job.  "She spent her last days dedicated to her work at SMU, but most importantly, not giving up hope," says Lillian Harvin, Facilities Director and friend.  "Her strength and commitment to the University, her family and friends was a testament to everyone."

Gerri AdamsGerri spent the last eight days of her life as an inpatient at the Medical Center.  Just a couple of days before her death, she told friends, "While I would rather not be here (at the hospital) sick, I can't imagine being anywhere else that did not include having my SMU family around me."

"She was a wonderful woman, possessing an infectious smile and gentle demeanor," said President Sharon Diaz.  "She was the consummate professional and a woman of honor and integrity.  She was key to resolving innumerable challenges in our facilities.  She will be deeply missed."

Those who knew her well say Gerri had a quick wit, heart of gold, and a kind soul that could charm anyone.  And those who were lucky enough to hear her could attest to her beautiful singing voice.

"Two days before Gerri passed, sitting on her hospital bed connected to tubes and machines, she belted out a beautiful rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for Maurice Borden, Assistant Director of Facilities, because she knew it was his birthday," said Harvin.  "At that moment you forgot she was sick."

Gerri was also a phenomenal cook, famous for many dishes including macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and greens.  They were always the first dishes to disappear at University pot lucks. 

Gerri AdamsTo honor this remarkable woman's memory, a bench bearing her name will be purchased and placed on the West Pavilion Patio.  "We hope that those who stop to rest on Gerri's bench will remember the lessons and gifts she gave us," said Harvin.  "I know that Gerri would want us to remember to be thankful for what God has given us and be grateful for how you live your life today." 

The University community, family and friends have established a scholarship fund in Gerri's name.  It will be awarded to an African-American student who is a single parent and planning to practice in the area of oncology.  The scholarship will be given out in the fall.  For more information about the scholarship please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs. 

Next week the Staff Council, of which Gerri was a committed member, will place scrolls around each SMU campus for people to write and express their thoughts and memories about Gerri.  "The idea is that these scrolls would act metaphorically as wailing walls, and remain up for a couple of weeks," explained Kira Allen, Student Service Coordinator and Staff Council Co-Chair.  "We plan to present them to the family as a further demonstration of how many lives Gerri touched." 

Gerri leaves behind her son Marshane Adams, granddaughter Imani M. Adams, two brothers and a sister, and a host of family and friends.

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Office of the President eNews is published by Samuel Merritt University, Office of the President.
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