Alva Virginia Cheek was the first of three daughters born to General and Marian Cheek on May 21, 1928 in Philadelphia, PA. (The other two daughters were Lois Letitia and Joyce Mae, who both preceded Alva in death.) Raised in a strong Christian home, Alva accepted Christ as her Savior at seven years of age and was baptized at Corinthian Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. William Hopkins.
Educated in the Philadelphia Public School System, Alva attended Pastorius Elementary School and Wagner Junior High School, and graduated from Germantown High School. Alva was a committed, lifelong member of Corinthian Baptist Church, where she was one of the early members who attended the “old wooden church,” as she fondly remembered it.
Alva worked as a secretary at the Census Bureau and the Veterans Administration until retiring in 1961 to raise a family.
After a whirlwind romance and brief courtship, Alva married the love of her life, Charles E. Adams on May 22, 1954. From this union two children were born: Vanessa Ava and Charles Leland. Alva and Charles created a strong, Christian home environment for their children. They were a close-knit family, especially enjoying happy times during the holidays and annual vacations in Atlantic City or Wildwood.
Alva’s love for singing began at a young age. When she was a little girl, at Rev. Hopkins’ request, Alva learned songs from her mother and sang them on Sunday mornings from the pulpit. As an adult, Alva and two of her friends started a choir called the Choral Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Brice Miles and Mrs. Myrtle Miles. In her later years, Alva sang with the Corinthian Choir, lending her voice as a soloist, until illness prevented her from participating.
God blessed Alva with a gift of teaching and a love of children. She began teaching the “Beginners” (Kindergarten) Sunday School class at the age of 14 and continued for at least 60 years. She served for many years as Corinthian’s Vacation Bible School Director. Additionally, Alva would open her home to the neighborhood children and hold Bible studies for them. Alva showed her passion for both teaching and learning God’s Word by being active in the Germantown Congress, Eastern District Congress, and Pennsylvania State Congress of Christian Education for many decades. She also supported the Pennsylvania Eastern District Congress Camping Foundation.
At Corinthian, Alva was one of the founding members and served as president of the Christian Service Guild, a ministry that performs missions work, including visitation of the elderly and shut-in. One of their special events was the annual Golden Harvest Dinner, which was given for senior citizens on a Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Because she had a wealth of information, Alva served as Corinthian’s Church Historian, providing pictures, artifacts and knowledge from the last 80-plus years that told the story of the growth and development of the church from its humble beginnings to what it is today.
In 1969, when her husband Charles answered God’s call to preach, Alva was unexpectedly thrust into the role of minister’s wife. Alva eventually embraced the challenge and began a new chapter in her life.
After her husband’s ordination in 1971, Alva was introduced to and invited to join the Baptist Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows Union of Philadelphia & Vicinity by past President
Rendella Wise Lucas-Gayton. Alva attended all Union sponsored activities and enjoyed the fellowship of all of the members. Sister Adams served as President of the Union in 1996-1997. Her theme was “Back to Basics” with the scripture as 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Her theme song was “I Love to Tell the Story.”
Alva was active in the PA Association of Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows. She was also a member of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows Fellowship of Philadelphia & Vicinity.
Alva joined the International Association of Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows in 1972. She attended every annual conference from 1972 until her husband became ill in 2013. She has represented the local Union throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean Islands.
In 2010, Sister Adams was inducted into the IAMWMW Hall of Fame, where her picture is displayed in a gallery with her fellow honorees.
Next to her relationship with God, of supreme importance to Alva was her family. As a wife, she loved her husband immensely and supported him in his quest to obey the call of God on his life. As a stay-at-home mother, Alva worked tirelessly to ensure that her children were well fed and well groomed, well educated, and raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Known to have a nurturing, caring spirit, Alva was always willing to share her knowledge of the word of God and her experience with others. She was a trusted friend and confidant, and would lend a listening ear to those in need of compassion and support. Alva was the first Sunday School teacher of hundreds of students over the years; many of them still remember the life lessons she taught. She was also direct and straightforward, and didn’t “mince words” (especially in her later years)! But beyond all else, Alva was a God-fearing woman who loved Jesus, studied the Word of God, and was dedicated to her family, her church, and the organizations to which she belonged.
Alva Adams was called from labor to reward and departed this life on Friday, October 25, 2019. She will be greatly missed by all those whose lives she touched.
She leaves to cherish her memory: husband – Charles E., daughter – Vanessa A. Porter (Keith), son, Charles L., nephew – Herbert Vince Rodville (Sandy), great-nieces – Dina Morrison and Beverly Brooks, great-great nephews - Eric Morrison, Malcolm Moore, Justyn Moore, and Jeffrey Brooks, great-great niece - Ciara Glass, cousins – Sandra Carter, Raymond Savage (Grace) and Keith Savage, a dear “sister” friend, Elizabeth Bell, and a host of other relatives and friends.