Dr. James Richard Adams, 72, retired director of development at the National Association of Free Will Baptists, died unexpectedly Friday, March 2, in Antioch, Tenn. Dr. Adams was born in Erwin, to the late James Henry and Amilee Norton Adams.
He lived in Erwin until moving to Nashville to attend Free Will Baptist Bible College. After graduating
in 1966, he and his wife Carolyn (deceased), moved to Kannapolis, N.C., where he became the pastor of Ben Avenue Free Will Baptist and stayed until 1970. At that time, the couple, along with their two children, moved to Elizabethton, where he served as the muchloved pastor of East Side Free Will Baptist Church for 20 years. In January of 1990, the Adams family moved to Nashville,
where he became the director of development with Free Will Baptist Home Missions North America. Over the next 18 years, Dr. Adams directed the Church Extension Loan Fund, which enabled church planters to buy land and build facilities all across North America. He worked tirelessly with the Build My Church Campaign, raising millions of dollars for Home Missions.
He and his wife traveled around the world to Canada, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States, representing the cause of Christ and Home Missions. In honor of Richards tireless work for missions, the Free Will Baptist Home Missions Board named the million- dollar endowment of funds he raised in his name the Richard and Carolyn Adams Endowment. Dr. Adams made a tremendous impact of the cause of Christ and for Free Will Baptists around the world. He will be sorely missed not only by family, but also by literally hundreds of friends across our nation.
Dr. Adams had two children, the late James Mark Adams, formerly of Elizabethton, and Bethany Adams Walser. Bethany is married to Randal Steven Walser of Elizabethton. They and their daughter, Alana Karel, currently reside in Nashville. He had two sisters, both from Erwin, Willa Dean Early and the late Betty Lou Tilson. His two nieces are LuAnne Powers and her husband, James, of Georgia and Sydney Paige Masters of Erwin. Also of Erwin, are Leo Masters (deceased) and Edna Masters, Richards in-laws, and Johnny and Chearie Masters, his brother and sister-in-law.
A memorial service was held Sunday, March 4, at 5 p.m., at Cofers Chapel Free Will Baptist Church on Franklin Road in Nashville. The Rev. Tim York and the Rev. Larry Powell conducted the service. A funeral service was held Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m., at East Side Free Will Baptist Church in Elizabethton. The Rev. Tim York, the Rev. Justin Deaton, and LuAnne Powers officiated. Interment will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Erwin Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. Active pallbearers are
Brian Crowe, Alan Walser, Jeff Carr, Jason Bunton, Glen Marley, Kenny Lethcoe, Larry Peters, Joe Williams, and Johnny Holder. Honorary pallbearers are Jack Bunton, Don Wilson, Jim Troutman, John James, Bill Cline, and George Greer.
Tetrick Funeral Home is in charge.