JoAnn N. Adams
April 20, 1933 – May 2, 2022
Dr. JoAnn Nelms Adams, Professor Emeritus
Who was JoAnn Nelms Adams? Describing herself as being involved in numerous visual art career activities, she believed her most exceptional accomplishment ever was that of Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. Her children are Scott and wife Jayne Butler, Arlington TX; Todd and wife Ann Butler, Norman, OK; Bliss Butler and Greg Dennis, Jones, OK; Russell and wife Dr. Elizabeth Butler, Edmond, OK. They are her lasting legacy. Their late father was Charles F. Butler of Harrisburg, IL.
Born April 20, 1933, in Hartshorne, OK, she was welcomed into heaven May 2, 2022, by her husband Harold E. Adams, Sr. who predeceased her in 2011. JoAnn, University of Central Oklahoma Professor Emeritus, was truly Sooner born and bred. Her husband, Harold, added to the extraordinary tapestry of their life together for more than 40 years.
Married on St. Valentine’s Day, 1971, they shared a bonding of their blended families. They include Kathy Adams Smith and husband Kevin, Eureka Springs, AR; and Harold E. “Hal” Adams Jr. and wife Gail, Dallas, TX. Their Mother was Mrs. Wilma McCauley, Fort Smith AR. Adams wanted all of their children to believe in themselves as creative human beings, dream big, not relinquish their career goals, take responsibility and trust their intuition and listen to their own inner voices. She also impressed on the family the importance of a quality life through continued education as well as volunteerism. Their spiritual life was to be paramount in all their activities.
Grandchildren include Dylan Butler, Ennis, TX; Brooke Butler and fiancé Tate McIntyre, Austin, TX; Zachary and wife Deserae Butler, Chickasha, OK; Alex and wife Kendra Butler, Oklahoma City, OK; Matthew and wife Jenny Butler, Norman, OK; Jordan Elizabeth Butler, Chicago, IL; Amy Mickle, Fayetteville, AR; Mitzie Mickle and fiancé Andy Green, Ft. Smith, AR; Collin Smith and wife Bethany, Eureka Springs, AR; Madeline Smith Butler and husband Cody, Tulsa, OK; Aaron Adams and wife Crystal, Dallas, TX; Rachel Adams Acosta and husband Eduardo, Phoenix, AZ; and Jesse Adams, Dallas, TX.
Great granddaughters are Isabella and Tinleigh Butler, Chickasha, OK; Melissa Marbury, Pittsburgh, PA; and Aliyah Hall, Conway, AR; Great grandsons are Owen Butler, Chickasha, OK; Jaxon Butler, Oklahoma City, OK; Osiris and Atlas Smith, Eureka Springs, AR.
JoAnn had strong family ties with her three brothers and their wives, the late Clyde A. Nelms, Jr. and wife LaVon, Cedar Park, TX; Thomas Nelms and wife Susan; Denton, TX and the late Robert M. Nelms, as well as numerous nieces and nephews who affectionately call her “Aunt Jody”. They had many lively, memorable journeys with family and friends. She enjoyed church and neighborhood acquaintances, traveling, and a close network of many sweet hours at the bridge table with dear friends.
Her parents, Clyde Allen Nelms, Sr. and Woodie Walker Nelms, were her HEROES and provided numerous opportunities for her to participate in the visual and music arts, not only in school but in the church and community. Her mother, Woodie, was an extraordinary influence as she had a Masters in Elementary Education with an art emphasis. Baptized in McAlester, OK, First Christian Church, 1945, the church was an integral part of their family’s life. JoAnn served as Worthy Advisor for the McAlester Rainbow Girls in 1951. A product of the public school system she graduated from McAlester High School, 1951.
JoAnn attended the University of Oklahoma and was granted a BFA in Art/Information Design in 1955 where she was awarded the Elmer Capshaw Medal for watercolor. A proud member of Alpha Gamma Delta Social Sorority, she treasured her membership and the lifelong friendships she formed. She received her 50 years pen in 2002. JoAnn completed her MA/Art, 1972, MFA/Design, 1980, from the University of Oklahoma. She was awarded her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Oklahoma State University, 1990.
Dr. Adams taught Art for 38 years in both private and public schools in Fort Smith, AR, Moore, OK and Putman City, OK. The last 25 years, she spent at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) Edmond where she coordinated the UCO Art Education Program, Fiber Arts & Weaving Programs, and originated and served as Director of the Donna Nigh Gallery. She was a member of UCO’s Emeritus Faculty Association.
As former President of the Oklahoma Art Education Association (OAEA), she was honored as 1975 Chair Emeritus status of Young Talent in Oklahoma during their 25th Anniversary of the state-wide high school art competition. Recognized as 1979 Oklahoma Art Educator of the year, she was awarded OAEA’s Special Distinction for Contributions in 1985. JoAnn exhibited work at the 1977 opening of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) facility in Reston VA. Active in the NAEA, she presented numerous papers and chaired committees, served as Secretary for the Delegates Assembly, and was recognized with leadership awards. JoAnn received the 1984 NAEA National Distinguished Service Award in Miami, FL.
JoAnn won the competition for OU students to design, produce and supervise installation of art for the Shaklee Corporation’s Norman facility. In 1980 she completed the twin tapestries, titled “Stylized Oklahoma Landscape”.
Other honors include 1982 Outstanding Woman of Achievement from Delta Kappa Gamma Honorary Women’s Education Society; 1986 Governor’s Art in Education Award; 1989 International Scholarship for completion of OSU Doctoral Degree; 1989 designed, produced and installed large scale art piece in the Oklahoma State Capitol Rotunda to commemorate Oklahoma Youth Arts Month; 1992 Crayola Dream-Makers Exhibition Award from Binney & Smith, Inc.; 2001 Woman of the Arts presented by Edmond Women’s Group; 2002 Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) Award for Weaving.
Retired from UCO in 1998 as Professor Emeritus, JoAnn continued her own production of tapestries and involvement in mixed media and fiber art experimental research. She strongly believed that fiber art and weaving is a fine art craft since the color in threads is media for unique expression as much as paint is media for painting. Her work is in numerous private collections. Her 2004 tapestry, “Road to Nirvana”, is in the Oklahoma State Art Collection.
“Oh, I have slipped these surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…
…Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”
Graveside services are to be held in Hartshorne, OK, Elmwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Dr. JoAnn Nelms Adams’ name to The First Christian Church, P.O. Box 3548, Edmond, OK 73083; or simply just hug your family.