ELYRIA — Prominent community leader Thelma Adams, who led the Elyria Unit of the NAACP for many years, died over the weekend.
Dee Tolbert, current president of the Elyria Unit of the NAACP, said Adams’ death will weigh heavily on Lorain County because of her legacy as a beloved community figure.
“We have lost one of the kindest community leaders Elyria and Lorain County has ever had, that’s the way I feel,” she said. “There are not too many people in the county that did not know Thelma Adams. We have lost a wonderful person.”
Adams was a member of the Elyria Unit of the NAACP for more than 60 years and served about a quarter of a century as president of the organization, Tolbert said. She also served as an assistant state auditor and was involved in various organizations, such as the Lorain County Salvation Army Advisory Board.
She received the National Federation of Democratic Women’s Humanitarian Award in 2004 and also was given a President’s Award in 2017 at the Elyria Unit of the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Banquet.
Tolbert said Adams spent most of her life in Lorain County, saying the two had grown up near each other in Elyria. Tolbert said she had amazing drive and passion for everything she did and spoke clearly and directly, meaning what she said and saying what she meant.
Adams was deeply involved in politics, participating as an outspoken member of the community and running for an Elyria City Council at-large seat in 2005.
Elyria City Council Clerk Forrest Bullocks recalled how involved she was in the community, speaking out at council meetings, primarily about issues concerning the black community. But when she did, Bullocks said, she fought to make sure the solution would help all races and cultures.
At times, Bullocks said, some people might have criticized her for being a chronic complainer, using the “race card” or abusing the racist or anti-racist attitudes toward audiences, on many public issues. What they didn’t understand, he said, was that she wasn’t complaining for herself, she was complaining for people she knew didn’t have a voice.
“She was a person who got in there and got her hands dirty to do the right thing and help people,” he said.
No information about funeral services was available Sunday night.