Obituary Listings

Cornelia Thayer Adams

January 5, 1932 April 26, 2018
Cornelia Thayer Adams
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Obituary for Cornelia Thayer Adams

Manchester by the Sea - Cornelia Van Rensselaer Thayer Adams, “Nina” to her family and friends, devoted wife, mother, grandmother and a staunch supporter of her beloved town of Manchester, died after a full life, on April 26. She was a resident of Manchester for 65 years. She was married to Samuel Adams, who passed away on March 4 of this year, for 66 years.
Nina was an avid reader of current events, British and American literature and biographies. She enjoyed writing her memoir about her life on her family farm in Lancaster. Her happiest times were spent with grandchildren, at family gatherings and community events or reading a book on Black Beach in Manchester.
She met her husband Samuel Adams of Winnetka, Illinois at her sister Priscilla’s barn dance when she was 16. They wed three years later in 1951. During their 66 year marriage, Sam and Nina raised four children and adored their seven grandchildren and great-grandson, spending countless summer days at the Bath and Laugh Club at Black Beach in Manchester, of which she was a founding member.
Nina was born in Lancaster, MA on January 5, 1932 to Duncan Forbes Thayer of Lancaster and Priscilla McHenry of Baltimore, MD. She graduated from Garrison Forest in Owings Mills, Maryland - this was a special time in her life that included, family, riding horses and developing a love of writing.
Nina attended Radcliffe College in her early twenties but left to raise her children before matriculating. Unlikely as it was for her time, Nina returned to Radcliffe after raising her children and completed her degree in 1979 from Harvard College, finally obtaining a B.A. in Government. This achievement was always one for which she was most proud.
Throughout her life, Nina participated in many town activities including The Manchester Players and many town committees including the Community Preservation Committee, the Manchester Historical Society and the Republican Town Committee. She was a former member of the Board of Trustees at Landmark and Pingree Schools. She worked as a Development Officer at the Winsor School and Governor’s Academy prior to her retirement. Nina also enjoyed travelling with Sam enjoying National Parks and Civil War battle grounds and all over Europe.
Those who knew Nina will miss her wit, intellect, stoicism and comforting presence. Her grandchildren who called her “Nannie” remember her as kind, practical, companion always eager to impart her passion for books. Nannie knew all the little treats that make a trip to Manchester a vacation - this includes “flawless and genuine fun” and evening rides to Captain Dusty’s for ice cream. She made her grandchildren feel like she “never wanted them to leave.”
She is predeceased by her husband Sam, her sisters Priscilla Thayer and Pauline Duke. She leaves a sister Julianna Williams of Pepperell, MA and four children, Charles Adams and his wife Ann of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, Sarah Bieber and her husband Bruce of Bethesda, Maryland. Phoebe Adams and her husband Michael Fournier of West Newbury, MA and Julia Richardson and her husband Paul of Almaty, Kazakhstan. She leaves seven admiring and devoted grandchildren and a great grandchild: Daniel Bieber and Abby Bieber of St. Petersburg, Florida, Ben and his wife Gabby and son James of Dunedin, Florida, Sam Adams of Boston, Jack Fournier of Boston, Cameron Richardson and Emily Richardson of Almaty, Kazakhstan. She leaves many old and dear friends and a following admiring nieces and nephews who called her “Nini.”
A private celebration of Nina and Sam’s lives will be held at the Essex County Club in Manchester in the summer. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to be made in her memory to the Manchester Public Library, Friends PO BOX 652, Manchester-by-the Sea, MA 01944. The family wishes to thank, from the bottom of their hearts, the many people involved in her care including Visiting Angels, Putnam Farm and the special folks at Harbor House and Care Dimensions. We will be forever grateful for their continual patience and gentle attention to Nina. For information or to send a message of condolence please visit

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