The Story of Mr. Yosef

The+Story+of+Mr.+Yosef

Tyler Hotz

When you see Gerald Adams on campus, he will almost always be wearing his alma mater’s colors. Some call him “Mr. Yosef,” a nickname coined to represent his 66 years of dedication to Appalachian State University.

Adams began his college career at App State in 1950 playing offensive tackle for the the football team before becoming the first residence manager for Justice Hall in 1952.

He went on to get his master’s degree in 1962, and moved to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, where he started as a teacher and coach and eventually became a principal.

Even though Adams enjoyed his time in Virginia, he said he was always looking to return to Boone, so after he retired from his position in the school system he became director of the Yosef Club in 1991.

“I wanted to help some kids that were halfway there academically, where maybe they could end up getting a scholarship in a different way,” Adams said. “You had so many kids back when I was around college and still have them that don’t have the money to go to school, and I thought I was in a situation to help someone.”

The Yosef Club gave him that opportunity to give back. The Yosef Club has been around for over 40 years, and its goal is to support student athletes academically and athletically with scholarships and facility upgrades.

The year before Adams arrived, the Yosef Club raised $363,475. Under Adams’ leadership, the club has raised over $3 million in the past three years.

In his time as director, Adams helped raise a grand total of over $33 million in scholarships for student-athletes.

After 25 years at the helm, Adams will retire on Sept. 30 and will be honored during the Mountaineers’ next home game against Georgia State on Oct. 1.

Adams grew up in Salisbury, North Carolina, and he looked forward to having the chance to go to college.

He wanted the chance to play football but his high school didn’t offer the sport, so during Christmas break of his junior year of high school he transferred to what was then Boyden High School to pursue the game.

When he arrived at Boyden he wanted to play fullback, but he was switched quickly to offensive tackle. Looking to continue playing football in college, his offensive line coach M.L. Barnes said that App State would be the perfect fit.

Playing his freshman year at App as a walk-on, he became a starter for the varsity team in the second game of his sophomore season.

While he can talk about memories for days, he most vividly remembers one game in particular: a road contest against the University of Tampa.

After Tampa scored to draw the game closer nearing the end of the game, they attempted an onside kick, and Adams came up with the recovery but also with something else.

Adams was laying on the ground and waiting for the official to blow the play dead, but a player from Tampa jumped on top of him and hit him near the kidney and had to go to the hospital.

“I was there for 13 days and was close to actually having to have my kidney taken out,” Adams said.

When the fellow Mountaineer was down, many sent cards or letters to lift up Adams. This sense of love and community showed early on what he would try to pay back years later.

Years later when living in Virginia, Adams lost his wife to cancer, but when he fell on tough times, his App state family once again tried to lift him up.

At an alumni event in 1993, Adams asked a woman named Julia to dance. Julia was a cheerleader at App and graduated two years after Adams in 1956. Like Adams, she had lost her spouse years earlier and was lifted up by her alma mater. Three years after that first dance, Adams and Julia were married.

“I don’t think there is anyone who has been involved with student-athletes who doesn’t know Gerald, but you can’t really talk about him without also talking about his wife Julia,” Chancellor Sheri Everts wrote in an email. “They are informally known as Mr. and Mrs. Yosef by people who know them, and they are wonderful ambassadors for Appalachian.”

Adams has helped the Yosef Club achieve numerous monetary accomplishments, but there is more that he has brought to App than meets the eye.

Ginny Thompson started at App in 2007 as a member of the golf team, and she remembers meeting Adams right after the Mountaineers knocked off Michigan. After graduating in 2011, she began as an intern for the athletic department where she got to know Adams even better.

Thompson and Adams work together in a variety of ways, but they most notably work together in the club room on game days where the Yosef Club invites some of their bigger donors.

“He always told me who to talk to and would sometimes whisper people’s names in my ear because at first I was new and didn’t know everyone,” Thompson said. “I’ve looked up to him and his passion for Appalachian and he has shed that light on me and made me realize how important it is to be apart of the black and gold family.”

Thompson is now the assistant director of development for the Yosef Club, and she also oversees the Student Yosef Club.

Adams’ contribution to App also shines from his many friendships with people on campus, especially one that has been going strong for over 65 years.

Former vice chancellor for development Bob Snead was also an alum from App, and met Adams when he came to the university in 1951.

While App only had 1100 students on campus at that time, the real reason Snead became good friends with Adams was because of his “big, friendly guy personality” and dedication to their school.

“From my perspective, no one can be stronger than Gerald Adams in support of Appalachian and especially Appalachian athletics,” Snead said. “Other than his family, the university, the Yosef Club and athletics are the most important things in the world.”

Another aspect that shows Adams’s dedication to App is his long stretch of attendance at football games both home and away. Adams hasn’t missed a single football game since App played James Madison in 1984.

Adams’ favorite memory from the past 25 years as a fan was the victory over Michigan in 2007, but as the director of the Yosef Club, his favorite memory was bringing together the teammates he played with under then head coach E.C. Duggins to help student-athletes who once were in his position.

The Duggins’ Boys were Adams’ teammates under coach Duggins, and when he took over the position of Yosef Club director, he was looking to have members of the group give back to the school where they met.

“I helped talk around 20 or so guys to do endowed scholarships, and it isn’t as big now to do them, but at the time it was a big deal,” Adams said. “It was one of the nicest things for me, seeing these guys come back and donate for people who are in the same situations.”

Story by: Tyler Hotz, Sports Reporter