Haruko Adkins, 90, right, enjoyed helping arrange flowers with friends at the Goodwin House retirement community in Baileys Crossroads, Va. She died May 16 of complications related to covid-19. (Peg Bethany) Haruko Adkins never forgot the training she received as a young woman in Japan on how to arrange flowers.

She consistently helped a group at Goodwin House, a retirement community in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax County, Va., where she had lived since 2013, arrange flowers each week for the hallways and common areas of the building.

“She was very, very good,” said friend Fred Morhart. “It was relaxation and intellectual stimulation for her, plus a chance to work with a very good group of friends.”

Adkins, 90, died May 16 of complications related to covid-19, according to her friends.

At times, Morhart said, Adkins would recall her flower teacher from Japan and laughingly say that the teacher either “would approve” or would not like her latest flower arrangement. She would say that some were “too edgy compared with her formal training,” Morhart said.

He said Adkins’s flower arrangements were unique because she “understood the idea of negative space.”

“Others fill up all the space” in a vase, he said, whereas Adkins “understood that you didn’t have to crowd things in. She was an artist. She was definitely talented.”

Morhart recalled Adkins as “totally sharp,” saying, “You would guess she was 80.” She was an avid tennis and ping-pong player and played both games well into her 80s, her friends said. When she and a friend visited the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., Morhart said the trip was a “thrill for her.”

Born in Nagoya, Japan, Adkins studied the art of floral arrangement and earned a four-year degree as a “master florist,” her friends said. She married Earl A. Adkins, a criminal investigator in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. With his work, the couple traveled and lived in several places, including San Francisco and Germany, before settling in Arlington. He died in 1999.

Adkins had a large group of friends and was known for helping others. If someone else wanted flowers she planned to use in an arrangement, she would happily give them away, Morhart said.

“She was very, very generous,” Morhart said. “She was always willing to say: ‘Help yourself. Take that if you need it.’ She had a very sharing nature.”

Adkins also did volunteer projects, including making sweaters and bags to carry food for those in need. She was once named “Volunteer of the Year” at Goodwin House.

Valerie Burke, the chief philanthropy officer at Goodwin House, said Adkins also enjoyed working at a thrift shop on the property as a volunteer and was good at making displays.In the dining room at Goodwin House, Burke said, Adkins would help if she noticed that others weren’t eating enough or needed a hand.“She’d say, ‘You’re losing too much weight,’ ” Burke said. “Then she’d go over and help them eat. She was a real connector.”In early May, Adkins came down to meet her weekly […]