In Memoriam: Martin Adams, 1962-2018

On October 4, 2018, staff, individuals, and families honored the memory of Individual Martin (Marty) Adams, who passed away in September after battling a short illness. During a repast at ILA’s 102nd Street Residence, they shared stories and watched a moving video montage offering a wonderful snapshot of Marty’s life.

Marty was a member of the ILA family since 1994, when he moved into the Agency’s West 48th Street Residence in Manhattan. Through the support of staff, he became acclimated to his new home and won many hearts across the Agency. Marty learned daily living skills, demonstrating increased independence around the residence. His sister Kathy Olson said, “While my mother and I were visiting the house, we saw Marty serving himself during dinner.”

Charlie Olson, Kathy’s husband, said Marty’s communication skills also improved at ILA: “He learned a few words and also picked up sign language. Seeing staff spend time with him to learn and expand his capabilities was really wonderful.”

Many of the fondest memories involved Marty’s love of food. “The staff really cared about Marty. They knew his likes and dislikes, especially oatmeal!” said Kathy. Shakeia Thomas, Residence Supervisor, 102nd Street, East 91st Street and Tilden Avenue, recalled, “I remember sitting next to Marty after he had finished eating. He drank his cup of water, then took my juice and drank it too! Marty was a wonderful Individual who will be missed.”

While living at West 48th Street, Marty enjoyed spending time in the backyard, taking community walks, and visiting the local pet store. He also loved summer vacations in Hershey Park and competing in the Special Olympics.

When Individuals moved from West 48th Street to 102nd Street, East 91st Street, and Tilden Avenue in Brooklyn, they maintained the strong bond they formed at the Agency. Alanton was one of several Individuals who attended Marty’s memorial, commenting, “I saw Marty as a father to me. Every time I came home, I used to look for him. I’ll always miss Marty.”

ILA families who knew Marty also expressed their love for him. “When I was looking to place my son in a group home, the first person I met was Marty Adams,” recalled Eileen Nesselt. “Any time I’d visit my son or attend ILA parties, Marty was always there. He was an extended family member.”

Eileen commended staff’s “phenomenal care” in ensuring a loving environment at ILA’s residences. For Kathy and her family, a safe and nurturing home for Marty was vital after he encountered years of substandard care while in institutional settings, including Willowbrook. Kathy and Charlie, both former staff at Willowbrook, who at the time were early and important voices for the need to improve services, noticed a positive change in Marty when he came to ILA. “Many of the negative behaviors he exhibited at Willowbrook quickly went away. He was no longer fearful,” Charlie said.

“Marty was treated very well at ILA for 24 years. He was definitely loved. And I know he felt that love,” Kathy said.

ILA Executive Director Arthur Palevsky said, “Marty touched all of us. Staff adored him. It was a labor of love. May Marty rest in peace.”