Peter Joseph "Joe" ADAMSON
1950 - 2020
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Died of complications due to Covid-19 in Faro, Portugal, on April 3, 2020. Peter Joseph "Joe" Adamson leaves behind his wife Sue Trerise, the love of his life. Preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Rigmore, and his older brother Alan. Loving father of Lois and Murray Adamson. Brother of Martin (Lesley), Kristen (John), Virginia (Patricia), Daniel (Mei) and Rondi (Patrick) and honorary sibling Mary-Lou Holm (Dennis). Joe will also be missed by many nieces, nephews, in-laws and lifelong friends from Manotick, Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton. Sue's children Lindsay Trerise, Jessica Wargo (David) and Tony Trerise (Rebekah) will miss him dearly at family gatherings. He was a wonderful and generous Grampa Joe to Sue's grandchildren Caelob, Liam, Phoebe and Lincoln. Born August 26, 1950 in Ottawa, Joe had a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto and was a professor in the English Department at McMaster University until his retirement in 2015. An accomplished writer and author of numerous books and articles related to his research in literature and emotions, affect theory and the writings of Northrop Frye, Joe was passionate about tennis and played doubles with "the boys" at Rosedale Tennis Club in Hamilton for many years. He loved going to the cottage in summer, relaxing, swimming and reading for hours each day and listening to his voluminous jazz playlists. Joe was the ultimate Frank Sinatra fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of his entire career and discography. Above all, he loved spending time with Sue. Sue and Joe were fortunate to travel frequently and enjoyed viewing some of the world's most beautiful art, music and theatre in Europe, Australia and North America. They loved entertaining friends and hosted many a dinner, highlighting Joe's bartending skills. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Joe's honour to Wesley Urban Ministries supporting the most vulnerable members of our society in Hamilton, Halton Region and Brant County is welcomed. A celebration of life for Joe will be held at a date to be determined. Forever loved and cherished, rest in peace, my dearest.

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Published in The Hamilton Spectator on Apr. 16, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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26 entries
July 18, 2020
I just heard this sad news, and I am devastated. Joe was such a kind and generous man, and I, for one, owe him a lot. His passionate love for literature was exhilarating, and it made the most extraordinary impact on my life. If there was only one person who showed me the way to future, it was Joe. Joe was a marvelous mentor who gave me the gift of seeing my life in a new astounding light, profoundly fertile and expansive, and, for that I am eternally grateful to him. I will always remember you Joe, laughing, dispelling despair, and breathing hope and joy into everyone's existence.
Mahmood Khoshchereh
Friend
June 19, 2020
I join in the shock and sorrow. Condolences to all the family.

Joe was my PhD supervisor from 1999, and I got to know him as a passionate scholar and friend. He was an outgoing and joyful guy who understood quiet people, as well as the darker affects he studied. He had a sharp satirical eye for the follies and vices of the world, not least those of the university. We kept in touch after McMaster as he encouraged and supported my endeavours with endless generosity.

He had such a broad mind and such a big heart. An amazing range of expertise and enthusiasms, despite the professions pressure towards narrow specialization. We found we both loved the audacious thinkers who took on tangled questions of art and culture and mind and worldview Frye and Bakhtin especially, and the tradition of Menippean satire they both studied monstrous, rambling, hilarious books. He helped me to turn these interests into a dissertation. I remember well (re)discovering together those brilliantly eccentric writers: Lucian, Rabelais, Cervantes, Sterne, Voltaire, Melville, Joyce, Beckett. There were a lot of belly laughs in those talks. I too had the privilege of being a Teaching Assistant for his Comp Lit courses, which spanned literary history from Homer to Kafka. The world needs more classes like that.

I recall his youthful sense of excitement with meeting Sue back in 2012; he wrote of the good upheaval of a new love in his life. He sent a photo of them looking glamorous at Stratford, after seeing Much Ado, and just before sitting down for a gourmet dinner at the chef's "long table," a fund-raising event for the chef school there. Don't we look cool?
Its a good memory to hold on to.

Tragic to close the big book at last, but the story lives on, the laughter echoes.
Michael Sinding
Friend
June 5, 2020
Joe was my doctoral supervisor, and in that sense changed my life. Thank you Joe, for the gift of those years in the 80s, teaching Goethe, Kafka, Flaubert, Dostoevsky as a comp lit TA, finding your office just by following that famous laugh, singing down the corridors of Chester New Hall . . .
Harry Vandervlist
Student
April 29, 2020
I am so sorry to hear about Joe's passing. I knew Joe as Kristen's older brother and always thought he was such a nice guy whenever I would go to their place to play when I was growing up in Manotick, ON. This is just so sad to hear and I send my condolences to all the family. It may have been 50 years since I've had contact with anyone in the family but getting the news from my older brother Bob has really hit me.
Thinking of you.
Linda Hobson
April 25, 2020
My deepest condolences to the entire Adamson family. I attended Mac but never had the pleasure of being taught by Dr. Adamson; however, I was lucky enough to teach his brilliant son Murray twelfth grade English at Westdale, and know that he inherited his dads intellect and literary prowess. Thinking of you, Murray, and sending my love.
Krista Levely
Acquaintance
April 25, 2020
David Wesley
April 24, 2020
I was very sorry to hear of Joe's passing. He was a chum at Trent University, and I remember his great sense of humour and enthusiasm.
Kari Hagness
April 24, 2020
I'm floored by this news.
Joe was our department's singing cowboy, outspoken, sparkable. His song was his laugh. His salty views made for a genuine honesty. He said what he thought. He allowed himself to be known, with his scholar's understanding of shame and timidity at his side in ways that were not always easy for him. He had a great appetite for exploring the intersections of his own love of ideas with the imperatives of social concern in literature. They made a kind of dance in him. He showed to me what such a dance might look like when performed without self-consciousness or dissembling. He was in a sense my alter-ego and for that I was always a little frightened of him. He showed what kind of honesty might lie on the other side of the social graces, where more is at risk, more to be gained. It was thanks to a call from Joe, in the spring of 1989, before he knew me, that I ended up at McMaster. It was also thanks to Joe that I learned of the Jewish Franco-Russian philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch, one of whose many quotable lines comes back to me, in remembrance:

Celui qui a été, ne peut plus, desormais, ne pas avoir été. Desormais, ce fait mysterieux et profondément obscure d'avoir vécu est son viatique pour l'éternité.

It was thanks to Joe then that I learned that word viaticum, which means provisions for a journey.

Pack well, Joe the heavy one for check-in, the lighter for carry-on.
Jeffery Donaldson
April 23, 2020
Very sorry to learn of this. I was one of his T.A's when I was doing my Ph.D. This was long after we first crossed paths when I was an undergrad in his American Lit class. He'll be missed. R.I.P.
Neville Newman
April 23, 2020
Sad news. He introduced me to Frye's work and he kindly gave me a copy of his book Northrop Frye A Visionary Life. My favourite professor by far. Memories of discovery and wonderful laughter.
Robert Ross
April 23, 2020
Joe, my colleague and friend, was that rare person who cared intensely about ideas and laughed with his entire body. No topics were off-limits: indeed, he entered passionately into discussions about literature, politics, and music (to mention but a few of his areas of deep knowledge) and relished it when others did the same, whether or not they agreed with him. Often, no concessions were made on either side, but that did not trouble Joe. He wanted people to articulate and defend their positions. Such acts had as their reward his absolutely inimitable laugh, as did interesting or absurd stories. Can you hear it?that bass-noted, wonder-filled laugh? It will echo through the halls of the university, I believe, encouraging all of us to remain attuned to the delights of non-traditional modes of engagement with each other.

Joe also offered me a sensitive form of care during a very difficult period in my life, and I remain so grateful for his generosity. He, too, went through hardships, and when both of us found stability and new partners, we enjoyed time together. Joe and Sue delighted in each other, in travel, in cultural events, and in hosting epic dinner parties. The meals and the jazz concert are unforgettable!

Joe, my friend, may you find laughter, good books, and lively interlocutors in the afterlife (or whatever the equivalent is!).

Sue, my friend, may you feel free to express your grief with us and to share your memories. We are here for you.
Grace Kehler
April 23, 2020
Grace Kehler
April 23, 2020
So gutted to hear of this. My condolences to his immediate family and those that knew him. He touched many lives at McMaster and always inspired. M. Lutz
Michael Lutz
April 23, 2020
Memories of Joe from the
Rosedale Tennis Club.
Always competitive with a great slice.
Take care Joe.
All the best to family.
Paul
Paul Mitcham
April 23, 2020
Sincere condolences from your former neighbours, the Perry family. Sue and family, we are so sorry for your loss and we extend our sympathies to you. Kent and Lynne
Lynne Perry
April 21, 2020
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your brother, Virginia. I will be thinking of you and your family during this exceptionally difficult time.
Kaylee Langille
April 21, 2020
Very sorry for your loss, Virginia. May your brother's memory be a blessing to you, always.
Nancy Rosenberg
April 18, 2020
Years ago Joe invited me to engage his graduate seminar on Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, and in return I invited Joe to engage my graduate seminar on Melville's Moby Dick. Both were memorable, rollicking conversationscontinued informally afterward in the University club with great enjoyment. When Joe and I each unexpectedly found new love (and my love Grace was a colleague and friend of Joe's), well, we got to know one another in rollicking new ways, and friendship flourished in dinner parties hosted by Sue and Joe. Joe's lively wit, vivid imagination and above all his lovely laughter (and oh he loved to laugh!) will be forever remembered and sorely missed with his passing.
Travis Kroeker
April 18, 2020
I am so sorry to hear about Joe. I've known him for years, starting in the late 1970's as grad students in Comparative Literature at U of Toronto, then as members of the Canadian Comp.Lit. Association (both on the Board) and as friends catching up at the Learned Societies meetings over the years. In 1998 we published a co-edited book on shame in literature, affect in literature being one of his great interests. Recently he e-mailed to say how happy he was in his new marriage and retirement.

I wish he had had many more years. He was a lovely, very complex man. My sincerest sympathies to his wife, his children, and his first wife Jean.
Hilary Clark
April 18, 2020
I was a friend of Virginia and my brother John (now Taylor) was Adam's friend from Manotick days and our twin sisters Sheilagh and Sarah were Joseph's peers. The Adamson family looms large in our shared memories and I send our love and sadness at this very difficult time.
Debbe Crandall
April 18, 2020
Unfortunately, we did not know Joe very well. We had the privilege to meet and enjoy his company at Lake Joe these past few summers. Our deepest condolences to all of you.
Barb and Jim Barrowman
April 17, 2020
Deepest condolences to the family. This is a great sadness that will heal with time. Hugs to you Sue and kids. Best wishes from all the Matte family
Eleanor
Friend
April 17, 2020
I'm so sorry. Joe was a wonderful friend, such a huge presence. I will miss him very much.
Ross
April 16, 2020
Joe was a great raconteur, mixologist, gentleman, scholar, writer but most of all, a friend. I will never forget the birthday weekend we shared with our wives and the martini mix up. RIP my friend.
Kim
Friend
April 16, 2020
Sincere condolences to Joe's friends and family, especially Sue. He was a wonderful man with a love for life, travel, music, food, etc. Gone too soon for sure, and sorely missed.
Cathy Conroy
Acquaintance
April 16, 2020
John Lyall
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