By J. Wiley Adams
I sit here alone with a broken heart. It is hard for me to write because Wilma, my beloved and beautiful wife, is no longer at my side. For more than 45 years she was always at my side. She died on July 28, 1990 of a pontine hemorrhage, a stroke at the base of the skull in an area which controls various body functions such as hearing, sight, blood pressure, and swallowing. Rarely is there ever any recovery from this type of stroke and, if so, the quality of life is to have no real use of oneself. How merciful that my dignified Virginian lady was spared from that which would have been worse than death for her and her family.
We were in a gospel meeting with the Thorn church of the Lord at the time she was stricken. This is near Houston, Mississippi. We were staying in the home of the Leroy Clarks. What a wonderful week it had been. Crowds were good. Singing was good. A lot of visitors from the area had come each night and some from a long distance. We had one more night to go.
The Clarks had a group of brethren into their home after services Thursday night for refreshments and association. It was so pleasant. Shortly after the guests departed Wilma had a dizzy spell, as she had been having from time to time lately. Thinking it to be an inner ear problem she took one of her pills for that problem. Her condition progressively grew worse until about 4 A.M. Friday. She told me she thought she had had a stroke. We summoned an ambulance from nearby Houston Hospital. On the way to the hospital she lost awareness and she never was conscious again. At Houston Hospital she was treated at the emergency room to no avail. On the advice of the doctor there she was sent immediately by helicopter to North Mississippi Regional Hospital at Tupelo 35 miles away.
Brother Clark took me to Tupelo while his wife and Allen Malone loaded my car and called various members of the family for me. They later came to Tupelo with my car and things. All the children were on the way soon. Allen finished the meeting in my place.
Wilma lingered until Saturday at 2:45 P.M. Three of the grandchildren (Stan and Carla’s boys) had come from Texas and were allowed in to say goodbye to “Mamaw” shortly before she expired. Then, with all our children gathered around her as I held her hand and as blood pressure dropped very low, her pulse went into a straight line on the monitor. Wilma had departed peacefully and without a struggle from this life to be with the Lord and all those saints who had gone on before. We all kissed her brow and said farewell. It was so comforting to have also at her bedside with us Tom O’Neal, Martin Adams, and Allen Malone. The Clarks kept the children in the waiting room. We all wept.
We brought her back to Warner Robins, Georgia where we have lived and labored with the Westside church for 19 years. A beautiful service was held at McCullough Funeral Home July 31st at 2 P.M. The service was conducted by Tom O’Neal, Sewell Hall, and Andy De Klerk. Beautiful congregational singing was ably led by Duane Combs and Allen Neely. It was a service of praise to God, tribute to a wonderful woman, wife, mother, and grandmother, and an appeal to the lost to get right with God.
Her body was then taken to Hopewell, Virginia, her home town and mine, for another service at Gould Funeral Home on Thursday, August 2nd at 2 P.M. This service was conducted by John Nosker, Paul Casebolt, and Weldon Warnock with Connie W. Adams conducting the grave side service. Again the singing was congregational with Allen Malone leading. The service was comforting and uplifting. We laid Wilma’s body to rest about 4 P.M. in nearby Chesterfield County at Sunset Memorial Park in the family plot. Connie’s closing remark before the final prayer was: “Sweet, sweet Wilma, we will all miss you.”
Unique to the occasion was the use of our three sons, our son-in-law, and the three older grandsons as pallbearers. Also in final tribute, a memory rose was placed on the casket by each of the grandchildren. Wilma is survived by her husband Wiley, a daughter, Paige Deason, three sons, Arthur W., Stanley W., and Keith W. Adams, and preceded in death by a baby daughter Karen Ruth. There are nine grandchildren.
Wilma will be missed by all who knew her and loved her. No gospel preacher had ever had a better, more supportive wife. Her loss is like cutting off my right arm. There are so many things I could say but I must be selective. They are in my heart forever whether or not they are written down. Many beautiful memories will sustain us in the days ahead.
It was Wilma who encouraged me to devote full-time to the preaching of the gospel. It was she who helped me more than anyone else to achieve this goal. Patiently she tended to our family and urged me on in this noble work. She was my most attentive listener as well as my most concerned critic. She always followed me in the Scriptures as I preached or taught and took notes on my sermons as though she had never heard them before. She was a wonderful example to her family and to the whole church wherever we were. She had no patience with women who complained about being the wife of a preacher. She counted it an honor to serve the Lord by helping me to preach the gospel and become an elder in the church.
Her efforts to help me in the preaching of the gospel must not be wasted. With God’s help they shall not be. I must continue on in the work of the kingdom of God. I know I will never be quite the same again. I will never get over missing her. But she would say if she could, “Wiley, preach the word. You are my preacher man.”
And so I will do this for whatever time I have left and finish my course as she did hers and keep the faith until that day, whether soon or late, when I shall be laid at her side to await the resurrection and to enter into Heaven’s gates together – together still, forever.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her prize is far above rubies?” (Prov. 31:10) Well, Wiley Adams did find such a woman and her name was Wilma. Goodbye, my love – for now!
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 18, pp. 554-555
September 20, 1990