Whatever your reason for visiting the College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Office of the fourth floor of MacAlister, Vanessa Bailey Adams, 28, was usually the first smiling face you saw. The Drexel community will mourn her passing after she died May 22 of a pulmonary embolism.
Adams, who preferred to go by her middle name, worked as an administrative assistant in the Dean’s Office. According to Amy Weaver, the director of marketing and communications for CoAS, she started at Drexel Nov. 30, 2009. Her official title was administrative assistant. She worked specifically with the student-side of the Dean’s Office.
Adams was born Dec. 30, 1983 in Corpus Christi, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She then came east and ended up working at Drexel. She resided in Collingswood, N.J., where she focused on renovating her historic home.
He added, “She made people feel joyful and hopeful even on the crappiest of days. Her mildly inappropriate humor and sincere compassion for the students, her coworkers and perfect strangers alike will certainly be cherished by all.”
Another one of Adams’ best qualities was her love of baking, which was appreciated by all.
“When I think of Bailey, I see her smiling; I taste her baking; and I realize that she was, in large part, the heart and soul of our office,” Donna Murasko, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email.
Adams also baked for her friends and teammates on the Turnpike Parolees, a South Jersey Derby Girls intraleague roller derby team, which she had been a member of since November 2011.
Roller derby is a full-contact sport on roller skates that is seen in movies like “Whip-It.” In the world of roller derby, participants are encouraged to have nicknames, which are usually forms of word play that are satirical or intimidating and can include puns, alliteration and allusions. Adams’ derby name was “Bailey’s Irish Scream.”
“Bailey often ran our charity bake sale at our events and was a spectacular pastry chef,” Melissa “Mos Deathly” Morera, the president of South Jersey Derby Girls, wrote in an email.
To honor her, the South Jersey Derby Girls will host a doubleheader event July 21 at the Drexel Armory located at 33rd and Market streets. Four local roller derby teams will compete.
“The game was already scheduled for Drexel, as many of our teammates are on the staff at the University, but we figured what better place to honor her than there — doing what she loved with her teammates, family and friends, in her name,” Morera said.
The event will feature a raffle of gift baskets and other items, with all proceeds going to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. There will also be a bake sale occurring at the event.
“We will be recreating her favorites, with the proceeds going to the SPCA in her honor,” Morera said.
An earlier memorial will be held in her honor June 8 at 3 p.m. at World Cafe Live, which is located at 3025 Walnut St. Her family requested that instead of bringing flowers, donations should be made to a humane society or pet-friendly organization because of Adams’ known love of animals, or “maminals,” as she called them. Attendees will be encouraged to swap remembrances of Adams after a short memorial.
Adams is survived by her father, Joseph F. Adams and his wife, Bonnie Adams, as well as her longtime boyfriend, Andy Goldstein.