In Memoriam: Marilyn Ross Adams

By Ed Gogol

Marilyn Ross Adams, longtime member of FFRF and my partner and spouse of 38 years, died on April 12, 2016, of acute leukemia. She was 78.

Marilyn was a pioneering feminist of her generation, and an activist and tireless campaigner for many causes, including peace, safe energy, environmental protection, and human rights (especially abortion rights) and the right to aid-in-dying. She was a woman of extreme compassion, with a tremendous passion for justice. Professionally, she had several careers, especially in the fields of marketing communications. She was a world-class copy editor and shaper of marketing messages, and was obsessed with helping the nonprofit organizations she cared so much about.

In addition to various corporate jobs, her extensive resume included stints with the American Civil Liberties Union, Citizens for a Better Environment (an agency of the city of Chicago during the administration of progressive Mayor Harold Washington), Hull House, and Solar Service Inc. She claimed partial credit for stopping an ill-conceived plan to build an airport in Lake Michigan, and came up with the campaign’s slogan, “Don’t Do It In the Lake!”

Marilyn was a font of wisdom to her large circle of friends, relatives and colleagues. She was generous and touched many lives. Devastated by the death of her beloved son Ross from melanoma in 2001, she slowly recovered, and helped many others through their grief. Besides me, she is survived by her daughter, Didi, and four grandchildren.

Like me, the product of a classic Eastern European Jewish background on both sides, Marilyn was also exposed to the Methodist and Catholic churches as a child. And, like me, she became a fervent atheist. John Lennon was one of her favorite individuals, and “Imagine,” with its lyric “And no religion, too,” one of her favorite lines. She and I attended and thoroughly enjoyed many wonderful conferences of the FFRF and of the American Humanist Association. Her loss leaves a large hole in our hearts, and an obligation to carry on her work.

Freedom From Religion Foundation