James Anderson Adams
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March 3, 1934 – May 8, 2020
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Phillippians 4:13 (KJV)
Faithful, generous, and inspiring, James Anderson Adams was born on March 3, 1934 in Etta,
Mississippi, to sharecroppers Marion and Ruby Adams. His hardworking parents had high hopes
for their ten children (one stillborn). All worked hard in the fields yet went on to earn college
degrees. With his powerful presence, his business sense, and a teddy bear smile that instantly
drew others in, their first born (nicknamed “Bull”) would be a leader in every way.
After attending Liberty Elementary and High School – requiring a five-mile walk each way daily -
- James received his bachelor’s degree in business education from Rust College in Holly Springs,
MS. He went on to earn two master’s degrees at Governors State University in University Park,
Illinois – one in Human Learning and Development, another in Cultural Studies.
As a college freshman, James fell hopelessly for Yvonne Smith, a classmate who would become
the love of his life. James often told the story of how he was walking by with his girlfriend and
Yvonne, sitting on a bench, asked him to go and get her a “round” (bologna sandwich). He
immediately ditched his then girlfriend, returned with the sandwich, and the rest was history.
They graduated together in 1958 and one year later, on Valentine’s Day, Rust’s Homecoming
Queen became James’ queen for life in a simple courthouse ceremony.
The couple began their life in Chicago, working toward ambitious goals and partnering in
tireless dedication to their church, their community and their family which soon came to
include three beloved children, Myron (“Andra”), Maurice, and Katrina. James was hardworking
and fully committed to doing what was needed to support and raise his family. At one time, he
worked three jobs, day and night.
He built his career in education first as a teacher at Chicago’s Bryant Elementary where he was
promoted to assistant principal. He then taught at Crown Academy School, totaling 34 years of
service to education. He was a shrewd business minded person, counting his pennies and
making budgets, always careful to ensure that his family had all that they needed. James was an
active member of his community, engaged in a number of organizations including the West Side
Youth Boosters, Introspect Youth Services, Rust College Alumni of Chicago, Boy Scouts and the
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls Club, which christened a literacy program in his and his
wife’s names in 2019. He was a loyal member and a leader at Central Memorial Missionary
Baptist Church for 60 years, serving as Treasurer and Chairman of the Trustee Board,
Scholarship Fund and Store House Ministry. Always at the center of his family’s life, he
nurtured, championed, and supported his children as well as his grand and great grandchildren
at every turn.
After retiring in 1994, James turned his attention to traveling, largely in support of his daughter,
Katrina and her competitive tennis career. He and his wife sacrificed a great deal to support
their baby girl’s dreams, as did the entire family. Little did he know that support would
ultimately enable them to see the world together, to meet dignitaries and enjoy experiences
well beyond his dreams. Among the highlights of their later years, on their 50th wedding
anniversary, James and Yvonne renewed their wedding vows before a host of loved ones, and
James was delighted daily, to Face Time with his great grandsons, twins Evan and Joshua.
Despite several health challenges over the years, James and Yvonne would celebrate their 60th
Anniversary happily together. He had defied death more than once, but Yvonne’s passing, in
August 2019, was a heartbreak from which he never fully recovered.
James spent his final months in Las Vegas, NV where he was lovingly cared for by his son,
Maurice. On May 8th at 8:42 a.m., cradled in the embrace of his children, James surrendered
into the loving arms of his Lord and Savior. He transitioned in time to reunite with his wife on
her birthday, the following day. As he often noted, the arc of his 86 years of life was full to the
very end. It also never lacked for love.
Preceded in death by three of his sisters (Annarine Adams, Inez Knolls, and Mattie Hodges)
James leaves to mourn siblings Mae Shelby, Roosevelt Adams (Regina), Andrew Adams
(Princess), Willie Adams (Emma), Kynard Adams (Beverly) and Ruth Ball (Coolidge). James’
legacy lives on through his devoted children, Victor Bruce, Myron, Maurice, and Katrina; his
granddaughters, Andrea Guidry (Darryl) and Azure Bruce; great grandchildren, nieces, nephews
and all who adore him, including his godchildren, Stacey McJunkins, Darry Smith, Melvin Phillips
and Kendrick Coleman.
The family takes comfort in knowing that, after a long life well lived, he has returned to the love
of his life and they are at rest, in eternal peace.