Cover photo for Phyllis J. Adelman's Obituary
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1933 Phyllis "P.J." Adelman 2024

Phyllis J. Adelman

February 4, 1933 — May 17, 2024


Phyllis “P.J” Adelman, age 91, died of natural causes on Friday, May 17, 2024. She was the eldest of three children born to Phillip and Esther Debus. She was born on February 4, 1933, in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

She moved to Rockford for a work opportunity where she met Roger B. Adelman. In 1956, Phyllis married Roger B. Adelman and raised her son Mark and daughter Laurie while helping Roger build his realty companies Bliss Adelman Realtors and Crosby Adelman. She was predeceased by Roger in 1997. She later met Murray Johnson and on September 5, 2018, they invited friends to a civil ceremony at the University Club to celebrate the companionship they shared. For twenty-one years, P.J. was the well-known owner of “Fashions by P.J. Adelman” at Edgebrook Center. She was renowned for introducing the newest fashions to the Rockford area while also serving as the president of the Edgebrook Merchants Association for five years. 

Her life was peppered with many firsts. She was the first chair of the Emerson Department of the Rockford Women’s Club, she opened Walrus Quilt Shop in 1975, which was the first of its kind in town, she was the first female member of the Rockford University Club when they became the last club to allow women to join, and she was one of the first female members of downtown Rotary. 

P.J. was a bright star who relished an entrance. For many years there wasn’t a social event she didn’t support and always found a way to end up on the front page of the paper while doing it. Her circle of friends was known as the “Gotcha Girls”, and they were the center of attention at their bi-monthly outings. 

P.J. bravely survived a battle with cancer and promoted OSF’s “Healing Pathways Cancer Center” by being “the diva” of the Diva Sale to raise money. She could be seen about town in her classic red Mercedes with the plates, DIVA. She enjoyed her role as leading lady for “Age Quake Ladies Ensemble”. She was an avid knitter of scarves, and the like which she regularly donated to charity. She also learned to play Mahjong and became passionate about it. It kept her mind sharp, and she loved the interaction with the other ladies. She also took her love of Mahjong to the next level when she started teaching it to others at Rock Valley College Center for Learning in Retirement. 

Phyllis is survived by her companion, Murray Johnson; daughter, Laurie (Doug) Russell; and daughter-in-law, Karen Adelman. She is predeceased by parents; her two siblings; her stepmother, Sylvia Debus; and her son, Mark Adelman.

P.J. will be remembered for her enthusiasm, infectious smile, and larger than life personality. 

A Celebration of Life location and date still to be determined. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be donated to one of P.J.’s regularly favorited charities, Music Academy of Rockford, AAUW of Rockford, Rock House Kids, and Literacy Council of Rockford. Please share memories and condolences online at 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Phyllis J. Adelman, please visit our flower store.


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