Margaret M. Adams, 89, executive in publishing and women's rights advocate

Margaret Adams
Margaret Adams
Posted: December 17, 2013

PEGGY ADAMS was, as her family asserted, a "renaissance woman," ahead of her time with a remarkable career in publishing and the women's movement that spanned continents.

"For more than 60 years in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., she served as a writer, editor, account executive for several of the most formidable strongholds of publishing, advertising and public affairs in 20th-century America," her family wrote in a tribute.

She was also an important force in the international women's movement, and lectured in countries in six continents, including the former Soviet Union and China, on women's rights.

And she did it without a college degree, and much of it as a single mother.

Margaret M. Adams, who held executive positions with a number of publishing companies over the years, including Curtis in Philadelphia and Hearst in New York, died Nov. 8 of severe sepsis. She was 89 and lived in Broomall.

"She was very creative," said her son, Gregory Adams. "She had a knack for interacting with people regardless of race or economic background, from presidents to Russians to Chinese.

"She was very approachable, a genuine person with a lot of good friends."

As senior editor of national affairs for Good Housekeeping magazine, a Hearst publication, she opened its office in Washington, D.C., in the late '80s. She broadened the magazine's relationships with national and international female leaders.

Peggy became friends with a diverse group of prominent people, including Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut and the first woman to fly in space; Washington Mayor Walter Washington and his family; presidents and first ladies.

While raising two sons and living in Society Hill, Peggy - who was widowed when her husband, George A. Adams, died in 1976 - commuted daily to New York to create a public- and national-affairs editorial department for Good Housekeeping under the theme "Women in Passage."

Part of her job was to monitor the aftermath of the women's movement after the World Conference on Women, sponsored by the United Nations, in June 1975. For the U.N. Decade for Women (1976-85), she organized a series of conferences that featured female leaders from around the globe.

In 1980, she went on loan from Hearst to help plan the U.S. role in the Mid-Decade Conference on Women held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Her family said Peggy's mantra was always "to assert that women are co-captains of history, and want a balance in every aspect of American life."

Margaret Adams was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Collingdale High School in 1942. She attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Journalism and later took courses at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

She became director of women's news for Curtis Publishing Co. in Philadelphia and created national radio, television and news for the Saturday Evening Post, Holiday, Ladies' Home Journal, Country Gentleman and Jack and Jill.

She later became a corporate and editorial manager of public affairs for Crowell-Collier Publishing in New York for Woman's Home Companion and Collier's. When they ceased publishing, she joined Grey Advertising as an account executive.

Peggy married George Adams, a sales manager for Curtis Publishing, in 1962. For a time, she was a freelance consultant to a number of magazines in Philadelphia, New York and St. Louis.

Working with her husband, she created the format and the pilot year of Today's Girl, a magazine for teenagers underwritten by Camp Fire Girls Inc.

In 1972, Peggy formed her own media-design and consultant firm, Hearth Communications, servicing major publishing companies and advertising agencies. She worked with Spiro Advertising Agency in Philadelphia on women's issues for the 1976 bicentennial.

As a member of the U.S. Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, Peggy toured NATO bases, and also worked with the Air Force and NASA to advocate for the peaceful exploration of space.

She served on numerous national and international boards and advisory councils, including the League of Women Voters, National Conference of Christians and Jews, National Women's Economic Alliance and Pan Pacific Association of Women of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Peggy was the first white woman to be honored with the "Ombudswoman" pin of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, among many other citations and honors over her long career.

Besides her son, she is survived by another son, Jeffrey, and three grandchildren.

Services: Were Nov. 12.

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