Adelaide Hamilton Hapala
March 2, 2021
Adelaide Hamilton Hapala, 95, died peacefully on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at The Hermitage in Richmond where she resided for 11 years. The happiest years of her life were with her husband, Milan E. Hapala, to whom she was married from 1947 until his death in 1992. A devout Presbyterian, Adelaide longed to be reunited with Milan, and her family is at peace with the knowledge she is now at rest with the love of her life. Adelaide was a much beloved mother to Milan E. Hapala, Jr. (Susan) and Mary Elizabeth Hapala; grandmother to William Hapala McCahill (Chesney), Leigh Hapala Ferrell (Brandon), and Caitlin McCahill Wahlstrom; and great-grandmother to Adelaide Elizabeth Ferrell (“Libby”), Edward Ellerson Ferrell, and Kayleigh Elizabeth McCahill.
Adelaide was born in Franklin, NC, and grew up in Fort Myers, FL. She graduated from Duke University where she met her husband, Milan, in a political science class when he was pursuing his Ph. D. After their honeymoon, they settled at Sweet Briar College where they raised their family. Together, they enjoyed dancing at the SBC student galas and travelling, especially to the Czech Republic to visit Milan’s mother and friends, and to Paris and Scandinavia.
Adelaide taught in Amherst County schools, first at the elementary level and then in the high school as a teacher of American government. She loved leading the annual senior class trip to New York City and producing the senior play. Adelaide was an amazing soprano who sang in the choirs at Duke, the University of Michigan Choral Union, and the First Presbyterian Church of Bryn Mawr. She also played piano and organ and was a skilled bridge player.
In retirement, she was an active member of the Amherst Garden Club and Friends of the SBC library. Though Adelaide was a talented and accomplished woman, she wished most of all to be known as Milan Hapala’s wife. Her family cherishes memories of her love of family, her beauty and style, her sense of humor, and her lemon meringue pie.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Milan E. Hapala Scholarship Fund, Sweet Briar College, P.O. Box 1057, Sweet Briar, VA 24595 or The Hermitage Team Member Fund at 1600 Westwood Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227.
The family plans a service at a later date on the campus of Sweet Briar College.
What a great lady and teacher! I remember her class with a smile. May God give comfort to the family as they recall a life well lived and know she is at peace.
Adelaide was my mentor when I began teaching in 1973. I watched her every method in the classroom. We took the senior class to New York and worked together on the senior plays. We put on George Orwell’s 1984. How I wish we could all see that production again. She would breeze down the halls of Amherst County High School with those long legs and I would try to catch up. I never did. I had such great respect and admiration for her. Oh how I wish we could continue our conversations
Mrs. Hapala was my government teacher in my senior year at ACHS. I was always so amazed at how she knew all the government official names and just so knowledge about government. I remember we had to do a project, I can’t quite remember exactly what it was on, but we had to explain it in front of the class, telling all about what we had done. I worried so about this because I was very quiet and shy and everyday I dreaded being called on. For some reason I never was, she knew I had my project all done, but spared me from having to get in front of the class. I thought what a wonderful teacher, to this day, I don’t know if she overlooked me or knew my fears. I have good memories in her class and will always remember her with a smile. She cared about her students and it showed. She will be missed.
I remember Mrs. Hapala with such great fondness. I feel certain that the civic discourse of our nation would be more robustly informed and intelligent if people of her character, caliber, and commitment taught courses in U.S. Government. She positively radiated love for her students, her course material, and the vocation of teaching. I count myself blessed to have been among her students and to have received a degree from her beloved Duke University. May God grant her rest from her considerable labors with the saints in light and raise her in the glory of the resurrection on that day to come.
Such a lovely lady. I learned a great deal in her class and she challenged her students to pay attention and learn. Milan, I’m so thankful that she lived such a full life and is at peace and reunited with her dear husband. Praying that the Lord will continue to comfort you until you are together again! Fond regards, Nancy Justice Lilly
My condolences to Mary and Milan for the loss of your mother. As a student I was lucky to have Ms. Hapala as a teacher in the 6th grade as well as Homeroom and Government as a Senior. Later in my life she was a friend and neighbor on Waughs Ferry Rd. Through the years she continued to have the same enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and as well as a sincere interest people she met. Adelaide Hapala was the gold star for teachers who make a difference, and I am sure she will always be remembered by those who had the privilege of being in her presence.
Mrs. Hapala was my idol. She was my home room teacher in the fifth grade at Madison Heights school and I adored her. I will always remember her as being kind and beautiful. I am very saddened to learn of her passing and send my deepest sympathies to her family.
My Senior Government teacher at Amherst High School. A wonderful educator I remember with great fondness. Deepest condolences to her family,