Helen Schmidlen Adams, 83, English teacher, Lancaster Townshipsupervisor, passionate about women’s issues

By on July 10, 2019

Helen Schmidlen Adams, 83, of Lititz, passed away on June 27, 2019 at Brethren Village, with her husband, William H. Adams, by her side. They had just celebrated 62 years of marriage.

Born in Sheffield, she was the daughter of the late Otto and Mamie (Hertig) Schmidlen, and one of five siblings.

Helen graduated from Juniata College with a B.A. in literature after which she taught high school English. Her life’s work as a dedicated volunteer for many organizations began when she moved to Lancaster with her husband.

She was passionate about issues that affected women and spent her life advocating for them through her volunteerism. The list includes Girl Scouts, American Association of University Women, Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County, Women’s Alliance, YWCA, Planned Parenthood, Women in Politics, and the Lancaster County Commission on Women. She was a woman who stepped up at every turn to put her beliefs into action.

Helen was recognized by multiple organizations for her leadership. The YWCA acknowledged her as Woman of the Year in 1985. She was presented the Jean Royer Kohr Award in 1991. She was awarded the Girl Scouts Thanks Badge (the highest honor for an adult) by the Penn Laurel Council in 1981 and again in 1995, an unprecedented honor.

When Helen wasn’t busy volunteering for community organizations, she gave her time to her alma mater, Juniata College. From fundraiser to trustee to alumni council president, she was generous with her time and talent. The college recognized Helen and Bill with the Outstanding Service Award for their volunteerism in 1995.

In 1990, Helen stepped up to coordinate the Women in Politics course through Millersville University and the YWCA. Two years later she decided to practice what she preached. She became a candidate for the office of township supervisor, not the endorsed one, and beat her opponent two to one in the primary. She won the election, was re-elected six years later, and proudly served the residents of Lancaster Township as a supervisor for 12 years.

Somehow, Helen still found time for her favorite hobbies, including playing tennis, fly fishing, birding, listening to classical music, and chocolate.

Surviving in addition to her husband: Bill; is a daughter: Debra Adams (Joe Costello) of Alta, Wyo.; a son: Kurt Adams of Lancaster; and a grandson: Sean McGregor of Linn Grove, Iowa.

A celebration of Helen’s life was held July 8 at the Brethren Village Chapel, Lititz.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Helen’s passion for women’s issues by contributing to Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County.

To send online condolences, visit SnyderFuneralHome.com. Charles F. Snyder, Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory, Lititz, had charge of the arrangements.

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