DEDICATION TO COMMISSIONER PATRICIA A. ADAMS
A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS
“I do not ask to walk smooth paths
Nor bear an easy load
I pray for strength and fortitude
To climb the rock strewn road.
Give me such courage and I can scale
The beadiest peaks done,
And transform every stumbling block
Into a stepping stone.”
“Be tough in the way a blade of
Grass is: rooted, willing to
Lean, and at peace with
What is around it.”
In 1967 the movie version of “A Man for all Seasons” won the Academy Award for best picture portraying the life of the great Christian saint, Sir Thomas More. The title referred to More’s talent in all dimensions of life: intellectual, spiritual, the fundamentals of every day life, and his indomitable spirit and courage to do what was right and live by his principles. These qualities are an apt metaphor for the character and personality of our own Patricia G. Adams, “A Woman For All Seasons.”
Commissioner Adams was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. After a sparkling high school and college career at the University of Maryland majoring in Human Ecology (she graduated Magna Cum Laude) she was initially employed as a Home Economics and Art teacher at Nicholas Orem Junior High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. Patty was on her way to becoming an outstanding educator when a college roommate and sorority sister convinced her to take the LSAT test with her. The rest is history. She scored well and went on to the University of Baltimore Law School, receiving her JD in May of 1980.
As an attorney for almost twenty years she had a wide range of experiences. Her mentor was David F. Grant, a savvy practitioner from Greenbelt, who schooled her in the ins and outs of representing Police Officers, Firefighters, and other municipal employees. From 1981 through 1999, she was the managing partner of Serio, Tansy and Adams, Attorneys at Law, performing all the administrative duties of that firm and specializing in workers’ compensation cases representing primarily Prince George’s County Police Officers, Firefighters, Deputy Sheriffs (including the esteemed Sheriff himself, Jimmy Aluisi), the Municipal Police Officers and employees of the University of Maryland.
For these nineteen years she earned the reputation as one of the best Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Prince George’s County, and was considered a lawyer’s lawyer. Cases were referred to her by attorneys who were not familiar with this area of the law or by fellow specialists who could not figure out a particularly thorny problem. Patty never failed to get these cases on the right track and achieve the appropriate result. An excellent litigator, well versed in the procedural and substantive aspects of the law, and a consummate negotiator, Patty had a special knack for knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
As if her responsibilities to her law firm weren’t enough, Commissioner Adams was continuously active in both public and private organizations. Having married Leslie Adams and having a child, Michael, in 1988, Patty became the superb wife and mother. She managed her home as she did her law practice; everything was neat and orderly, and everyone in the household ran on schedule.
From 1983 to the present she was an active member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church, involved in special projects such as the Charles Carroll House Restoration Committee and the Holiday Sharing Program. She was a parent volunteer/coach for the “odyssey of the Mind” Team and the Teacher Appreciation Committee at the Indian Creek School; on the Patrol Committee at McDonough High School; on the Board of Trustees of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority; Chairman of the Membership Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association; and an active member of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland from 1982 through 1998 serving as a Commissioner from 1994 to 1998. In addition, Patty was active in numerous Bar Associations such as the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland, the Maryland State Bar Association, the Prince George’s County Bar Association and the National Association of Women Judges.
In 1999 our Workers’ Compensation community had the good fortune of having Patty appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Commission where, as all of you know, she has gone on to become one of the greatest Commissioners to ever hold that office. Constantly volunteering for extra assignments, Commissioner Adams was Chairman of the Vocational Rehabilitation Committee, which met for over a year to try and develop legislation to improve the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services to claimants; she wrote the new Self-Insurance regulations; and she was the Commission Liaison to the Maryland Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. I had the benefit of serving on the Vocational Rehabilitation Committee and was able to witness her superior administrative abilities first hand.
But it was in fulfilling her office as Commissioner that her immense talent was demonstrated to the fullest. A person of patient demeanor, unparalleled knowledge of the subject matter, and grounded in the rules of procedure, every participant in the trials that she presided over, claimant’s employers, insurers, and their attorneys knew that they had received a fair and impartial trial in front of a compassionate yet firm jurist. She possessed a tremendous insight into the character of people, and could easily perceive when a witness or counsel was being less than candid. It was not a smart move to argue nonsense in front of her. Commissioner Adams took great interest in attempting to return all the claimants to some form of suitable gainful employment and frequently used her creativity to craft orders regarding pain management and vocational rehabilitation to accomplish this purpose.
As a colleague on the Commission, Patty brightened all of our lives. She added to the sense of camaraderie that I have been privileged to experience these last six years, and it is with great pain in my heart that I say goodbye to her as a coworker. Her wit, intelligence, good nature, spontaneity, organizational skills, decency, advice and compassion will be sorely missed by all of us. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in an essay of friendship observed that the words, “Do you love mean” means, “Do you see the same truth?” For myself, I can unequivocally say to Patricia G. Adams, that yes, I see the same truth you do. I am grateful for the time we have had together as coworkers at the Commission, and more importantly, I thank God for bringing another truly great friend into my life.
Patty will continue to avoid the smooth path and exhibit the courage to transform stumbling blocks into stepping-stones. She will be “tough like the blade of grass; rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what is around” her. She will continue, like Thomas Moore, to be a woman for all seasons.
Patty’s farewell speech to the Commission of April 22, 2004, reminded me of the following:
“Tis easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows along like a song,
But the woman worthwhile is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.”
Thank you Patty, and May God bless you and your family always.