On February 25, 2019, Adrienne Barbara Gorman left this life after 85 years of living, loving, and teaching, and giving due to complications related to heart failure treatment. She was a resident of Oakland Park, Florida for 48 years. She was preceded in death by her husband of 13 years, William Gorman (aka “Bill”), parents Adrian and Edna Couson, sister Caroline, and sister-in-laws Agnes and Dorothy. She is survived and will be deeply missed by her children Christine, Brice, and Laurel, Laurel’s husband Paul (her son-in-law), grandchildren William and Julia, sister Dorothy and Richard (brother-in-law), her sister-in-laws Gertrude and Ann, numerous adoring nieces, nephews, extended family (especially Paul’s mother Kitty and brother Francis), and numerous family friends.
A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held, Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 11:00 AM, United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale, 2501 NW 30th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33306.
Adrienne lived a full and extraordinary life despite contracting Polio at the tender age of 4. Though the disease robbed her of lower body strength, requiring use of crutches early in her life and a wheelchair for the last 30 years, she never let the disease rob her of her spirit, intellect, determination, humor, and zest for life. What was most extraordinary about Adrienne was not what she could not do but what she did. She was born in May 1933 in Chicago. Growing up in Chicago, she was a Camp Fire girl who enjoyed animals, the outdoors, swimming, books, writing, and music (singing, opera, classical music were her favorites). A top student, she received her Bachelor’s on academic scholarship from Rockford College, a Master’s in Counseling/Rehabilitation from University of Illinois, and her teaching certificate in English Literature. In addition to excelling academically, she sang on the radio and local TV, wrote poetry, and got training in swimming from former Olympic swimmers. She was active in her church’s choir, and often performed solos at Christmas services. Due to her determination, she made the Rockford College women’s rowing team despite the fact that she had to walk on crutches.
Adrienne’s life changed dramatically after she moved to Tarrytown, New York and met the charming, down-to-earth, and sharp-witted William Gorman (aka “Bill”). A fellow Polio survivor, Bill loved her infectious laugh, kind nature, and curiosity about learning and books. Bill was an extremely funny man who could have been a professional comedian in another life with Adrienne as his biggest fan. Laughter and humor permeated every aspect of their relationship and served a glue to bond them despite their differences. She converted to Catholicism for him (she was a Methodist, he was a devote Catholic), got married in 1962, and settled in Staten Island. They were blessed with 2 daughters while living in Staten Island. Escaping the snow and ice, they fled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where Adrienne gave birth to her third child, a son, and resided In south Florida for the rest for of her life.
Bill died from complications related to a brain tumor in 1975, making Adrienne a young window with 3 elementary school-aged children. Now on her own with 3 young children and numerous household pets, she took on a full-time job as a counselor for blind people. She excelled, got promoted, and managed to take care of everyone. Despite her handicap, Adrienne successfully performed the difficult juggling act of full-time working mom and professional woman. She worked for Broward Division of Blind Services for over 20 years, becoming a supervisor for the Broward Office.
Despite professional demands, she was “there” for her children and her children’s friends to lend an ear, celebrate accomplishments, and provide wise advice. She didn’t consider herself a homemaker and said she’d “rather have an enlightened mind then a clean floor”, but she sewed dresses and buttons, cooked, and healed many scrapped knees and a few broken hearts raising 3 children on her own. Adrienne was always reading books and encouraging her kids to learn something new. Academic success was stressed. The household was full of animals (cats and dogs), books, trips to the beach or pools, and excursions to the library, museums, or other cultural endeavors to encourage cerebral and physical growth. Blessed with kindness and empathy, she often invited blind people over for dinner. While juggling life’s demands, she also became a published author after Readers Digest accepted her poems and short stories. Adrienne loved games as well as sports, and was agile at playing cards, watching football, or going to a soccer game. Up until her last year, she participated in a “Bridge Club”, as the strategic card game was her favorite. She was active in her Christian faith in different service ministries throughout her life, and she sang in the choir at St. John the Baptist Church and then in the United Church of Christ choir. Loyal to her husband’s wishes, she raised all her children in the Catholic faith but she eventually followed her heart back to the Methodist faith and later to the United Church of Christ. She believed that, regardless of the Christian denomination, the most important thing was to live one’s Christian faith everyday by serving others. She lived her faith with action, devoting her life to helping blind people and advocating for the rights of the disabled. Once her eldest daughter developed health issues, she devoted the rest of her life to caring for her and expanded her advocacy to support the rights of those disabled mentally and physically.
Adrienne’s children and family remember her very fondly for all the road trips to Disney, the mountains, or Washington DC to ensure her children got enrichment, joyful vacations, and kept connections with Bill’s family up North. Vivid images and photos made for a lifetime of happy memories for her children as well as for the aunts, uncles, and nephews and nieces who enjoyed her company. Sometimes she would bring along the family dog. After her children grew up, she continued the road trips to visit her daughter Laurel, who left to pursue several degrees and then accepted positions at universities outside of Florida. She delighted in Laurel’s career and was always curious about medicine or the latest research. Later, she would become a loving and devoted grandmother to Laurel’s children William and Julia, whom she referred to as the “lights in her life”. She wrote poetry for them, knitted sweaters, and cheered them on in all ventures; she became Julia’s greatest fan as she pursued training in dancing and William’s biggest admirer as he built innovative creations. She always had a stash of “good chocolate”, a sparkle in her eyes, and a fun game out to play whenever they came for a visit. Knowing they shared her love of animals, she kept food scraps ready to take them to feed the neighborhood baby ducklings or stray kittens or cats (she fed 5 homeless cats).
In closing, we cherish the memory of Adrienne and we thank God for the gift of knowing her. Her love and gifts will live on in her children and grandchildren. Her beautiful singing voice and love of music lives on in Christine; her love of books and writing lives on in Brice, who became a published author and secondary school teacher; her determination, quest for knowledge and cerebral growth lives on in Laurel, who became an accomplished biomedical scholar and medical school professor; her love of arts and dance lives on in Julia; and her humor and love of animals lives on in William. Of note, Dr. Laurel Gorman-Squitteri devoted her numerous teaching awards to her mother, Laurel’s first and most inspirational teacher and greatest role model for balancing professional/academic accomplishment with motherhood, kindness, and community service. Likewise, Julia’s grandma inspired her to overcome a painful Achilles injury and Julia’s determination and hard work resulted a comeback with top honors in state dance competitions. We honor Adrienne Gorman’s Christian life of service life, and her loving memory will continue to serve as a source of inspiration and comfort for those close to her.