Obituary: Joan C. Adams Apr. 1, 1945 – Apr. 4, 2022

Joan Charlotte Smerchanski Adams passed away peacefully at home in Livermore, CA, Apr. 4, 2022, at age 77, in the presence of her husband, Tom Adams, and her caregiver.

Joan was born Apr. 1, 1945, to Mark G. and Patricia N. Smerchanski in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, the eldest of three daughters. Her middle name came from her great-grandmother, Dr. Charlotte Ross, a pioneering female doctor in Canada. Joan excelled in school in Winnipeg, earned a bachelor of arts degree (with first class honours) in actuarial math and mathematics from the University of Manitoba, and a Master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She met her future husband in Madison. They were married in 1970 in Boulder, CO. They moved several times, ending up in Chicago, IL, where Joan gave birth to twin sons. After a year in Hawaii, the family settled in 1977 in White Rock.

The sons were Joan’s primary focus. Warm weather activities included many picnic lunches in the park, and swimming lessons and fun at the pool. Joan chose Sage Montessori for their preschool. She did volunteer work at Pinon Elementary School, was as a soccer coach, and a den leader. Later, Joan did volunteer work at the Los Alamos Middle School, and helped coach their Odyssey of the Mind team. The team made it to the World Finals. Joan introduced her sons to music at a young age. She arranged music lessons on a sequence of instruments, took them to performances of the Santa Fe Opera and Broadway shows in Denver and New York, and sent them for several summers to Hummingbird Music Camp. For many years, Joan and the family made fall trips to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta and State Fair, and to Colorado to see the aspens turn color. When both sons expressed a desire to transfer to East Coast boarding schools, Joan supported and encouraged them in their quest.

Joan and her family were active members of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, where she taught Sunday school and was a frequent volunteer at church activities. Joan co-sponsored a family of Vietnamese refugees and continued to help them for the rest of her life. She also helped two young artists from Sarov, Russia, the sister city of Los Alamos. They produced hand-painted lacquer boxes and brooches, which Joan, with help from Michele Smithour, sold at craft fairs. Joan loved cooking and was well known for her English Christmas puddings. She was an avid environmentalist, recycling as much as possible and avoiding harmful chemicals.

In 1998, Joan and Tom moved to California. A fighter, Joan dealt courageously with numerous medical challenges, including chronic pain following back surgery in 1986 and major surgeries in 2006, 2009, and 2016. She is survived by her husband, Tom, sons Jonathan and Sam, and sisters Trish and Rhonda Smerchanski. A memorial will be held May 20, 2022, at 11 a.m. at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA. More memories of Joan can be found on-line at