T.K. and Louise Adams married at a small church in Waycross in 1959, then relocated to Newton County days later to start their teaching careers together. They have spent more than six decades impacting the community through their commitment to education, their love of music and their tireless devotion to one another.
Two teenagers in Waycross formed a special friendship and became high school sweethearts in the 1950s. Unbeknownst to them, their relationship would continue to develop and flourish over the course of more than six decades.
Timothy K. Adams, known as T.K., and Louise Bennett could never have imagined where their lives and careers would take them after their high school graduation. T.K. became a college student at Morris Brown College, while Louise attended Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in Atlanta. While on Christmas break from college, T.K. was with Louise at her grandmother’s house, and one morning, he took the leap and proposed. He put a ring on her finger at the breakfast table. She, of course, said “Yes!” A few months later, they finished college with degrees in education and a wedding to plan. Their small-town church had never had a bride and groom get married in its sanctuary. T.K. and Louise were the first.
The community came together to make sure their wedding was special, and on Aug. 14, 1959, Louise met T.K. at the alter wearing a wedding dress she had made herself. Four days later, they moved to Covington, where they had landed teaching jobs with the Newton County School System. T.K. taught high school band, while Louise taught fourth grade. He was 24 years old, his wife two years younger, when they embarked on the first of their many adventures together.
Before their big move, the Adamses enjoyed a one-night honeymoon on Jekyll Island. While walking on the beach there, they ran into a band director from Clark College. Husband and wife can still recall the advice T.K. was given in regards to his new job as a band director: “Tim, don’t be a band director. Be a teacher. Take care of those kids.” On Aug. 21, 1959, the young couple hit the ground running only one week after they married. The seasoned teacher’s words on the beach stuck with them, and from day one, they made it their mission as teachers.
“My parents always laughed together, with and at each other. They always spoke respectfully to each other, even in disagreements.”Timothy Adams Jr.
Two years later, on Aug. 22, 1961, son Timothy Adams Jr. was born, deepening their bond with each other. With a new baby and busy careers, it would have been easy for the Adamses to neglect each other, but they set their priorities early on in their journey. While they continued to pour into the lives of their students and build strong relationships with staff and school administrators, they took the time to get away together whenever the opportunity presented itself. When asked about some of the strongest assets of their relationship and how they juggled their marriage and careers, Louise knew right where to go with her answer.
“You’ve got to trust each other and share ideas,” she said. “We discuss everything. You need to communicate if you’re going to live together. We respected each other’s careers, and we were always present when the other had a ceremony or special occasion. If you see one of us out somewhere, you’ll see both of us.”
Their relationship left a lasting impact on their son.
“My parents always laughed together, with and at each other,” Timothy said. “They always spoke respectfully to each other, even in disagreements.”
Their careers naturally became intertwined with their personal relationship, so they sought ways to make time for each other and their son away from work. They celebrated birthdays and anniversaries at the Ritz Carlton and often rented a cabin at Little Ocmulgee State Park. T.K. enjoyed golfing, so he bought his wife a set of golf clubs and taught her how to play so that they could hit the links together. Louise remembers a promise her husband made: “It’ll snow in July before you ever beat me in golf.”
As the years ticked by, the Adamses rarely slowed down. They poured themselves into their students and the community while raising their son.
“My parents taught me how to navigate the world at an early age,” Timothy said. “They understood what my journey would be as a young black man, so they were there for me and still are. As a student, my parents were always supportive. If I did something wrong in school, they supported the punishment. If I was treated unfairly, my mother was there to straighten it out, especially when schools first integrated. I got no special treatment at school or at home because my parents taught in the school system.”
Their commitment to students and the professionalism they displayed among their peers made them pillars of the community. T.K. and Louise always reveled in their students’ successes. However, they did more than just teach and go home at the end of the day. They stretched their influence outside the classroom, supporting former students as they graduated and went on to college. The Adamses served on numerous committees and joined local organizations. While their busy lives seemed to get busier over the years, their marriage remained a top priority. Such dedication spilled over into their son’s life, as well. When school was out during the summer, the family traveled abroad. They visited Europe on multiple occasions, including Rome, Paris and London. They always returned refreshed and inspired to accept the challenges of yet another new school year.
In 1993, T.K. founded the Newton County Community Band while Louise—having enjoyed a long run as principal at Ficquett Elementary School—started a successful after-school tutoring program at the Washington Street Community Center. They began their careers on the exact same day in 1959 and retired together in 1995. The Adamses were inducted into the Newton County School System Educator Hall of Fame in 2017. They remained committed to the community in retirement, and the impact of their involvement has not been lost on the lives they have touched the most.
“We still have former students who call and check on us,” Louise said, “especially last year during the pandemic.”
Though health issues have slowed the Adamses in recent years, they are active members at Grace United Methodist Church in Covington, where Louise still sings in the choir. When asked about God being the ultimate foundation of their marriage, Louise placed her hand over her heart, smiled and nodded. She had no words. Her husband, seated next to her with a gentle smile on his face, nodded in agreement. Music remains a significant part of their lives, as their son carries on their legacy as the chair of the percussion department at the University of Georgia in Athens.
More than six decades have passed since two high school sweethearts committed themselves to one another at a small church in Waycross. Endearing and enduring, the union of T.K. and Louise Adams has stood the test of time.