“Chuggie,” Caroline Reed Thrun Adams, left our world to enter heaven on her beloved dancing partner’s arm on July 4, 2017, surrounded by her family and extended family. We weren’t ready for this but the Lord had other plans for Mom and we are so grateful that she didn’t suffer and is home with Jesus.
Chuggie was born on October 8, 1929 in Valparaiso, IN to Dr. Walter and Mrs. Bess (nee Russell) Thrun, on the day the stock market crashed- certainly an auspicious day to be born. She was a precocious, creative and entertaining child who seemed to start out bigger than life! She married the love of her life, Chuck-Charles William Adams, on April 14, 1950 in Tempe, AZ. They moved back home to Valpo in 1951 to join the family business of the turkey farm and Strongbow. Becoming an incredibly accomplished and inspirational businesswoman became her lifelong work. She and Chuck were an incredible team in the restaurant business. Upon purchasing Strongbow from Bess in 1968, they added the bar and banquet room. She went on to build an incomparable party business, setting a standard of excellence in banquets, parties and weddings, copied by many, equaled by none. She was happiest being at the “front of the house” running the show! She described service and serving as the highest calling and one to be “performed” as if on the Broadway stage-and you better be “walking with purpose!” Make no mistake, she was in charge– her vision and her way. Generations of servers were mentored by Chuggie and fondly remember her trainings and life lessons. She was loved and revered by so many and kept in touch with them throughout their lives. The only regret of her life was retiring. She told everyone she saw to keep working as long as they could, preferably forever! She said “do what makes you happy-if it doesn’t make you happy, do something else!” She felt incredibly blessed to have been able to do the work she absolutely loved. In 2011, she published “Dinner at Chuggies” memoir and cookbook. One of her proudest moments was the book-signing held at Strongbow.
Chuggie and Chuck didn’t have a lot of free time throughout their early years and they had one magnificent hobby they could do together-ballroom dancing! Every Tuesday they went to Gary, IN to the Arthur Murray studio for dance lessons. Not only did they teach other young couples in their home, they competed! When they went out onto the dance floor everyone else took to the edges to watch! They loved performing, giggling all the way through it. They loved all kinds of music, especially the Big Bands. She was beautiful and wanted to please everyone. Chuggie had a passion for everything she ever did, whether it was raising the kids, tending the pool, throwing New Year’s Eve parties, coffee-clutching with her friends, gardening, or running the dining room at Strongbow. Her relationships and deep friendships lasted her entire life, starting with her friend Winnie of 87 years, literally from the crib on, to her lifelong friends of 63 years in Valpo. She still wrote letters to everyone even though you couldn’t read her handwriting!
She had a deep love of music and always thought she would grow up to be a singing performer on stage. That was not to be her path but she her love of music encouraged and inspired us to be a very musical family, playing and singing together. She played the piano her entire life, as well as violin and bass. She still played and sang to Chuck in his last days.
Chuggie and Chuck enjoyed many beautiful trips around the globe, usually with Mary and Don Lewis; they also took each of their grandchild on a 10-year old trip. Chuggie loved being on the water on any kind of boat. Many people are familiar with the iconic photo of Chuggie on Don and Mary’s sailboat on Lake Michigan. She and Chuck enjoyed over 30 years spending their winters on Sanibel Island, FL. Chuggie loved walking the beach at sunrise, collecting shells, watching the birds and dressing up for happy hour at the beach! She could host a party like no other and hated to leave a party!
On the homefront, no one loved like Chuggie. Family was everything, and if you were loved by Chuggie you knew you were loved unconditionally. She always listened, she always accepted, and took immense joy in whoever was talking. She shared whatever she had, gave until there was nothing left, relished the company of friends, and never turned anyone away.
Chuggie made education and lifelong learning a core value in our family. For 22 summers, Chuggie and Chuck gave their grandchildren the opportunity to attend Culver Academies Summer Camp. She was so proud of each child. She loved the littles, but she truly enjoyed her kids as adults. She loved drinking a bourbon with her grandkids, and never tired of hearing about their lives. Sometimes when she just couldn’t help herself something inappropriate might slip out and she’d just excuse it all by saying “Cancel that!” It’s hard to remember all of the Chuggie-isms because they were jaw-dropping hilarious! “If you’ve got something to put something in, somebody’s gonna want to put something in it!”
Chuggie spent the last three weeks of her life visiting her sister Mary in MS. We are so grateful that they had that special time together. On the day of her passing, Chuggie was looking forward to spending time on her beautiful summer porch, reconnecting with local friends, going to Martha’s Vineyard with Shellie later this month, planning for granddaughter Haley’s wedding in September in the backyard, and adding another little one to her list of loved ones. Our hearts are broken to say good-bye to her but we know she’s reunited with Chuck. “The problem is, we think we have time.”
Chuggie is survived by her four children: Shellie (Brian) Holmes, Rhinelander, WI; Char (Kevin) McGuire, Rochester Hills, Ml; Russ (Nancy) Adams, Valparaiso; Holly (Rocco) Abessinio, Grosse Point Woods, Ml. Thirteen grandchildren: Josh (Sarah) Mangerson, Jesse (Carissa) Mangerson, Jake (Polly) Mangerson, James (Ali) Mangerson; Jocelyn (Dion) Garrett, Jenny Rose (Greg) Denny, Joy (Jason) Bertram; Ashley, Courtney (John) and Matthew Adams; Austin, Haley (fiance John Doherty) and Emma Abessinio. Greatgrandchildren Abigail, Ella, Ryder, Quinn, Lily, Ginny, Lucy Mangerson; Elliana, Aria and Corbin Garrett; Silas Denny; Samantha Bertram; and one little Mangerson bun in the oven. She is further survived by her sister Mary Helen Lewis of Jackson, MS; special niece and nephew Karen and RJ Reed to whom we will be forever grateful and many beloved nieces, nephews and extended family. She was preceded in death by her parents Bess and Dr. Walter Thrun; her beloved husband of 66 years, Chuck Adams; brother-inlaws Larry Adams and Don Lewis.
She was and always will be “The Queen of Everything,” She was the magnet that everyone gravitated to. There will never be another like her and she will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.