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Posted on August 29, 2015 | 10:19 a.m.

Nancy B. ‘Kelly’ Adams of Santa Barbara, 1922-2015

Source: Adams Family

Born in Panama, Kelly Adams was an Air Force officer’s wife, a devoted mother, an avid golfer and bridge player, and a prolific baker of Thanksgiving pies. (Adams family photo)
Born in Panama, Kelly Adams was an Air Force officer’s wife, a devoted mother, an avid golfer and bridge player, and a prolific baker of Thanksgiving pies. (Adams family photo)

Nancy B. “Kelly” Adams died quickly and peacefully on June 29, 2015, in Santa Barbara, California.

Kelly was born Elva Nancy Bauman in the Republic of Panama on May 11, 1922, and she lived out most of her childhood there. In Panama, the Bauman kids learned to appreciate nature, swim with sharks, and were surrounded by exotic wildlife. Their pet parrot learned to cuss in Spanish and did so often, just to get a reaction from everyone.

Kelly saw President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he visited Panama, and she would also stand on the side of the canal’s locks and chat with passengers as the ships would glide by.

As a young woman, Kelly Adams was featured in a 1941 National Geographic issue about Panama. (Adams family photo)
As a young woman, Kelly Adams was featured in a 1941 National Geographic issue about Panama. (Adams family photo)

In 1941, a dashing young pilot from Kentucky named William C. Adams arrived in Panama for flight training. Not long after their first date on Valentine’s Day in 1942, they were married. The Adams family lived a military life, moving from one air force base to another, enjoying the excitement of travel and living in different parts of the country. They would pile in the station wagon with dogs, bird and suitcases, and head to their next home.

Their most memorable move was by ship to Okinawa, Japan, from Seattle, Washington, in 1956, and they were hit by a typhoon, then attacked by cockroaches their first night there.

When she wasn’t running the household and fulfilling the duties of an officer’s wife, Kelly had time to learn golf and bridge, two pastimes that stayed with her until the end of her life. And she was very very good at both. She would make at least 10 perfect pies each Thanksgiving and they were legendary!

Kelly’s last home was Santa Barbara, where she lived in Maravilla since 2003, and nursed her husband until his death in 2008.

Her children, Anne Athanassakis, William Adams Jr., Alice Adams and Lynne Adams-Bell will miss her strong personality and opinions, her endless stories gathered from years of life, and her vibrant presence that stayed with her until her final minutes.

Also missing her are her grandchildren, Caroline and Billy Adams, Nick and Yanoula Athanassakis, and Rebecca Bello, and her great-grandchildren, Griffin Adams and Maya Bello. Her honorary son-in-law, Ken Wilson, will miss taking her out to dinner and teasing her.

The family would like to thank all of her caring friends, her physicians and medical staff, too numerous to mention by name, and her fantastic caregiver, Nita, who saw Kelly through a difficult time, giving her a new lease on life and allowing her to live independently to the end.

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