Mary Ann Adams

Mary Ann Adams passed away peacefully the evening of June 19, 2021, to the tune of “Back Home Again in Indiana”. Family was by her side until her last breath. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s had claimed her, even though she fought against it long and hard.

Mary Ann was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, daughter of Lora and John Emil Held, and later adopted by her daddy Phil Wesner. All three were teachers. She grew up in and called home the Indiana towns of Paoli, Winchester, and Bedford. Mary Ann earned her degree from Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. She was extremely proud of her time at IU and insisted on yearly trips back to the campus to walk the halls of her former glory days. She especially loved reminiscing about Hoagy Carmichael writing songs in her favorite college bar, stories of a raucous party with her cousin Byron when a jazz band performed in their house, (and afterwards getting busted by her strict Methodist parents), walking the tree-filled campus to sit with a statue of former chancellor, Herman B. Wells, and crossing the Jordan River, which is now literally a trickle and a few puddles.

After college, Mary Ann lived one year in a mud hut in Lesotho, Africa. She enjoyed describing her time in Africa to anyone who would listen, telling them about the mountains, encounters with wildlife in Kruger National Park, and driving her VW van to town for supplies.

Following life in Africa, Mary Ann relocated to Lawrence KS. In Lawrence, she built a loyal base of piano students, both young and adult, whom she loved. In partnership with two friends, she purchased and managed Treble Clef Music, of which she was very proud. She especially enjoyed working with her son Galen and all the musicians she met through the store. She often spent free time playing in jazz bands such as River City Six and New Horizons, performing gigs in town and nearby. In addition to her mastery of the piano, Mary Ann was a long-time trombone player with the Lawrence City Band. Upon the encouragement of her daughter Kendra, Mary Ann began working with students with autism in Lawrence Public Schools. Despite sometimes coming home slightly battered or bruised, she saw the tender hearts of the kids with whom she worked. She ultimately switched positions to assistant to the librarian at West Middle School. While at West, one of her most memorable contributions began as a spontaneous tickling of the ivories on a pushed-aside piano in the lunchroom. (She never passed by a piano without at least a few bars.) What started as a whim ended up a daily chorus of Happy Birthday songs, the KU fight song, and anything else the kids suggested that Mary Ann could recognize.

Mary Ann had so many joys in life – softball on the Stinky Cheese Shoppe team, basketball among them. (She shot hoops into her early seventies.)
She often expressed regret over selling an old ski boat in which she spent lazy days on the lake. Mary Ann thoroughly enjoyed a good concert, and she took great pride in any little accomplishment of her kids or grandkids. In the 1980’s, she discovered snow skiing and spent most subsequent spring breaks on a pair of skis, a Snickers in her pocket for lunch. Her wry smile and quiet sense of humor will be missed.

While on a date with another man to the movie E.T., Mary Ann met her husband Dick Sengpiehl, who was with his daughters. Together, they traveled the world gathering memories – Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, New Orleans, Grand Cayman, Indiana (of course), California, Puerto Rico, and one adventurous trip where they got lost on a mountain road in the wilderness of Wyoming in their RV. Once Dick sustained a lifelong spinal cord injury, she changed ascourse and went on the road as his business partner, became his CNA, his caregiver, and even his bartender as much as she could. This was her new purpose, and she handled it with dedication and grace.

Mary Ann is survived by loving family. Her husband, Richard “Dick” Sengpiehl and their beloved golden retriever Max, of the home; daughter Kendra Metz, son in law Tim Metz, grandson Owen, all of Lawrence. Son Galen Adams, wife Tisha, and granddaughters Lyla and Cora, all of Emporia. Stepdaughter Adrienne Sengpiehl and grandsons Oliver and Elliott Herbert, of San Francisco. Stepdaughter Lillian Sengpiehl and husband Dan Schnelle and granddaughter Evelyn Schnelle, of Los Angeles.

A celebration of life will be held Wednesday, June 30 at 9:30 am at Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence KS. We would love all Mary Ann fans to attend. Colorful clothing is recommended – especially KU red and blue or IU crimson and cream.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for gifts to be made in support of Music Therapy students at the University of Kansas. Please direct gifts to KU Endowment Association, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044-0928, or you may give securely online at or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044. Please enter “Music Therapy Program” in the “My gift will benefit” box. This service meant so much to Mary Ann over the last years of her life.

For those of you with precious memories of Mary Ann, we ask that you write them down and bring them with you to the Celebration of Life to add to a scrapbook for the family.

13 Condolences

  1. SHARON Galichia Brandenburg on June 22, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of Mary Ann’s passing. She was a very talented person and I enjoyed knowing her. My sympathy and prayers go out to Dick and to the rest of her family. Sharon Brandenburg, Parsons, KS.

  2. Becky Mondi on June 23, 2021 at 7:41 am

    I am saddened to learn of the passing of this rich soul! I will ever remember that gentle smile and her utmost dedication and patience as she instructed my then young sons in Suzuki Piano training. Mary Ann truly exemplified all that was sincere and gentle and good.
    My heart is with all of you who are hurting in her passing.

  3. Sue Grosdidier on June 23, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Dear Kendra-
    I was so sorry to hear of your Moms passing. I remember her quiet, kind demeanor. Thinking of you!!

  4. Stacey and Monica Williams on June 23, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Dick and Family
    We were elated to meet the two of you when we moved in the neighborhood 8 years ago…
    Ms MaryAnn was quite the Woman.
    Loving music is right and she would always come and listen to our banging loud music and dance!!!. Of course Max too!!
    We Miss Her!!!

  5. Leslie Stallard on June 23, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    What a beautiful written account of Mary Ann’s life, loves and adventures. What a treasure she has been to her family and to so many others. All my love, Kendra. You loved each other so well.

  6. Shari Raybern on June 25, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Kendra, my sympathy to you and your family with this loss. May the many wonderful memories carry you through the pain.

  7. Mary and Steve Grant on June 25, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    We are so very sorry to hear of Mary Ann’s passing. She was such a positive person, and an absolutely marvelous piano teacher to our three children. While maintaining high expectations, she never ever seemed to lose her patience. She had a true gift for imbuing in others a love for music, and left a lasting impact on our family. We send our deepest sympathy to all her family, and hope your memories of the special person she was will help sustain you.
    Mary and Steve Grant

  8. Catherine Bolton on June 26, 2021 at 9:30 am

    What a phenomenal legacy she left and so many lives touched by her compassion and zest for life. She was a great conversationalist at the many dinner tables large and small. She’d float around the table engaged with friends and employing her sly humor and getting some licks in on the piano. She leaves your piano in the care of Owen who continues finding her spirit in the keys. I’m so glad I knew Mary Ann. She was a light in this world that will always glow.

  9. Joni Lawrence on June 26, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    My deepest sympathies to Dick and family. Mary Ann was such a wonderful person. I so enjoyed caring for her health needs for a period in her life. RIP my friend.

  10. Lida Osbern on June 28, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    I am sorry to hear of Mary Ann‘s passing. She was as sweet as she could be teaching Suzuki piano to my young son. He moved on to violin and I took his piano lesson slot. She managed to help me play the Minute Waltz —though it took me about five minutes. Our adult piano concerts in her home went much better after pizza and beer.
    I will always remember her sense of humor and beautiful blue eyes. Hugs to the family.

  11. Pam Hadjisavalos on June 29, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    I knew Mary Ann thru the Intergenerational Chior.
    She was a wonderful piano player for our group.
    May she be up there pkaying for the Heavenly Chior.

  12. Wendie Wilcken on July 3, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Geoff and I are so sorry to hear about Mary Ann’s passing. She shared her love for music with both of us, through many avenues. I knew her from West Middle School life, where she served as a library assistant. Her love for books and for kids shown through every day as she shared her favorites with all of us. When I found out about her adventures in Africa, I asked Mary Ann to be a guest speaker in my social studies classes. What a wonderful story teller she was! Thank you for sharing her with all of us. May you find comfort and joy in the memories.

  13. Emily Bayouth on July 10, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    I consider myself blessed to have known Mary Ann as a piano teacher, fellow autism paraprofessional, and friend. She was simply a lovely, intelligent person with a kind and generous spirit. And she will be dearly missed. So much love and comfort to Dick, Kendra and family.

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