ADAMS, Dr. Timothy Dow

Timothy Dow Adams, born John Middleton Dow Adams, in Monterey, California on December 11, 1943, was killed October 25 car while on a bicycle ride in the country near his Florence home. His parents, Colonel Lorenzo Dow Adams and April Amis Adams, preceded him in death as did his younger brother, Christopher Amis Adams, and his beloved parents-in-law, Paul and Edna Galloway.

Tim once said that everything he loved started with the letter B: blues, bar-b-que, basketball, and bicycling. When his wife questioned this line-up, he quickly added: Oh,, my Baby!. He looked untouched in death for which we are grateful; only a bruise on his forehead told of his end. He was such a smart man, and so funny, and for a natural loner he had many friends who valued his intellect, enjoyed his humor, and cherished his ability to make memories.

As an Army brat he moved often living in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Tokyo, and Ankara among others. For each post there was a story, an adventure, a memory. Moving to Fort Hood was fortuitous for here he met at age 15, Gail Galloway Adams who would become his wife. At the end of that first day they’d seen each other at Killeen Base, she told her parents: “I’ve met the boy I’m going to marry.” Seven years later they wed in New York City on St. Mark’s Place and he entered Columbia University. He’d joined the regular Army after high school and spent a year at the prep school at Fort Belvoir before receiving an appointment at West Point where his brother Peter was a cadet, but the military life was not his direction. After the the Academy he began to do what he really loved: studying literature. This was his life’s calling. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia and his MA at UT-Austin. He completed his PhD at Emory University writing under the direction of Professor Albert B. Stone one of the first dissertations on the fusion of autobiography and biography. Telling Li(v)es: Truth and Lies in Autobiography was published by University of North Carolina Press (1984). A second work on photography in life writing, Life-Writing, Light Writing was also published by UNC Press. Both were well-received and are considered important in his field.

Following the pattern of the nomadic life of academia, he taught at Old Dominion University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Atlantic Community College, Christian Brothers College in Memphis, McMurray College in Abilene, and finally secured a tenured position at West Virginia University in Morgantown where he taught in the English Department for 25 years. For almost a decade he was the department Chair . He received many awards for teaching and research, but what was most important to him was that he built a sense of community and collegiality. Department parties at the Adams home were legendary and dancing was obligatory.

Tim loved retirement. Every day there was good weather he rode his bicycle; this was a great pleasure. Once in response to his wife’s worry said, “If I die out on the road, I’ll have been doing what makes me happy.” He watched sports—bicycling, baseball, most especially basketball—and tried to complete a jigsaw puzzle every month. He railed at Texas politics (a progressive Democrat through and through) and loved to read Eudora Welty and Reynolds Price, both writers who fed his love for Southern literature. He liked poetry and often posted poems on the fridge. He was both witty and funny and thoughtful and responsible; he was a solidly good man. His senior year at KHS he was elected Most Dependable, that attribute never left him. He believed in the code that one did not lie, cheat, or steal, and he lived his life with honor, compassion, generosity and humor.

He leaves to mourn him forever his wife of 49 years, Gail; his beloved son, Paul of whom he was so proud (his wit, his intellect, his insightful prose) ; his older brother Peter Dow Adams and wife Donna Crevello; his sisters-in-law, Terry Galloway and partner Donna Marie Nudd, Tenley Galloway Parr, and Carol West Adams; his nieces, Melia Wilkinson, (Carey) daughter Casey; Emily Chamberlin,( Chris),son Nicholas; April Reynolds,(Craig), sons Craig, Jr. and Bowen; and nephews, Christopher (Chad) Adams, Michael Parr and partner Koda Turner; and beloved family friend, Jodi Linderman. Cherished friends: Chris & Jack Parker; Marcia Aldrich and Richard Isomaki; Jeanne Goodman and George Chastain, and Judy “Lucy” Thomas. Also treasured are long-term MLA Autobiography group buddies: Bill Andrews, Tom Couser, Paul Eakin, Becky and Tom Hogan, Sidonie Smith, and Julia Watson. He held in special affection his former administrative aide and friend, Michele Marshall.

According to his wishes there will be no formal ceremony. His ashes will be buried on his birthday in the Matsler Cemetery plot that he will share with his beloved parents-in-law. Donations in his memory: Bike Austin Education Fund, PO Box 5993, Austin 78763 (; or A/B: Auto/Biography Studies: Life Writing, University of North Carolina, Department English, CB #3520, Chapel Hill, NC 27535-3520.

“Though nothing can bring back the hour/Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;/We will grieve not, rather find/Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy/Which having been must ever be.”