Rev. Robert Adams

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Father to many; mentor to more. Father Bob Adams not only talked the words of faith and love, he also walked the walk. He gave an ear for listening, a voice to honesty, and a hearty laugh over life's foibles to help us learn and understand the lessons of compassion, trust and joy. Rev. Robert Ober (Father Bob) Adams, 82, of Sprague River went home March 12, 2014. In his final months, he was supported and enveloped by a family he gathered and forged, including two surviving sisters, Kate (Rob) and Becky (Dave), seven children, Diana (Tom), Becky (Larry), Heather (Michael), Melinda, Katharine, Joni (Jeff), and Doug (Debra), 17 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. During this time, our brother, father and grandfather, Bob, taught us one final lesson of giving up control, but never giving up hope of accepting love and of living in faith. His final homily, offered in the hospital to his care team hours before his final breath, encouraged one to live life to the fullest, with love, in service. Rev. Martha Hurlburt, assisted by local clergy, will celebrate Bob's homecoming service of thanksgiving in St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 1 p.m. with a reception following. Interment with military honors will be at 4 p.m. at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are being handled by O'Hair Funeral Chapel. Memorial contributions may be offered to local causes that support God's work among His people. Bob was born to Jim and Kay Adams in San Francisco, Calif., during the Great Depression. Jim, a World War II pilot and prisoner of war, was a successful attorney, and Bob enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Marin County with his four siblings, Doug, Kate, Helen and Becky and two cousins, Bill and Ernie. Then World War II intervened and his family moved first to Washington, D.C., and then, when his father deployed to the Pacific at the age of 48, to Winnetka, Ill. There Bob gained more cousins, Pete, Mike, Toby and John, and learned from his Grandpa Tad about how to be the "man of the house" while attending North Shore Country Day School as his mother had over 20 years before. After V-J Day, the family returned to the San Francisco Bay area, but Bob soon was sent to The Thacher School, a boys-only school in Ojai, Calif. He excelled at athletics and by graduation was tall, strong and confident. But Bob still searched for his purpose. He tried college, he served in the Army, he competed in baseball and soccer, he sang opera and, despite the fun or hard work, all left him feeling slightly empty (although he treasured his Army time, learning leadership as a corporal and logistics as a quartermaster). He worked in an ice cream shop, on a railroad construction crew, and as a taxi driver on the streets of San Francisco. Still he searched. It was only when he had a conversation with his Lord on a mountain in Okinawa during his Army service that he recognized the call as an answer that fit him. He finished college, entered seminary and was ordained an Episcopal priest by Bishop James Pike in 1962. Bob also found love. He married Gayle Biehl and they had five children in five years. Life as a priest usually meant parish work, and for 16 years, Bob served as a parish priest throughout the Diocese of California, first at the San Ardo/Lockwood Mission, then Christ Church in Alameda, St. Alban's in Los Banos (where he first served as rector), Holy Family in Half Moon Bay, and Grace Church in Martinez. These were formative years for him as a priest and as an activist. In the Central Valley, he worked with Cesar Chavez in support of farm workers while serving communion on Sundays to ranchers and farmers. The next few years were tumultuous. His marriage ended, he served as rector for three parishes and he met, fell in love with, and married Camilla Pearsall Hudson, thereby adding two daughters to his family. He shared his love of baseball with his children, especially his daughters, and his love for the outdoors with his grandchildren. He celebrated marriages and comforted during divorce. Life was rich and complex, sad and joyous, all at the same time. He provided perspective to young children, rebellious teens and searching adults. He was a parent who insisted but never judged, who could be hurt but never retaliated, whose larger-than-life personality was exceeded by the size of his heart. His own struggles informed his lessons to his family and to those he ministered and, although sometimes tough to receive, the lessons always felt authentic and were delivered with love. His words were solace to many, as they reminded that God is with us, especially in the tough times. After a decade and a half, Bob's work as a parish priest, although important, began to feel stale. Once again, he searched. Once again, the answer found him as he created a halfway house in his own home, helping just-released former prisoners successfully re-enter society. This was challenging, exhilarating, fulfilling work. Bob had found his second call. He quickly became known in the diocese and local community for his prison and addiction ministry. He served as executive director of the Henry Ohlhoff House, a diocese-run halfway house in San Francisco, for nearly a decade. He then joined the San Mateo Service League, coordinating and providing religious services in the jails of San Mateo County. This position allowed him direct contact with the prisoners and the guards, helping individuals - God's children - through tough transitions. His prison and addiction ministries were the second act of his vocational career, which ended when he joined his wife, Camilla, and her mother, Joan, in their little piece of paradise in the high mesa of Southern Oregon overlooking the Sprague River Valley. Retiring as an "active" priest, Bob again searched for his purpose. Bob had planned to fish, to write and to enjoy the beauty of the Southern Oregon wilderness. But as occurred twice before, his call during the third act of his vocational life instead found him. Bob did enjoy Southern Oregon because he was always on the highways and byways of the greater Klamath Basin and beyond, first in his Jeep and then in his sister's Pathfinder. He wrote for the people of his many parishes - Sprague River Friends, St. Luke's, St Paul's, St. Bartholomew's, and Fort Klamath United Methodist - through his sermons and his poetry. He fished with nets of love and discipline, compassion and persistence, availability and endurance, trust and truth. He could not and would not be worn down when there was another person he could help reach the potential Bob saw in him or her, another soul to encourage to learn to love God and neighbor. Bob knew - and taught - that love is a gift of grace, but also a gift that requires our consistent care and nourishing, lest it wither. These are human actions, Father (and father) Bob would say, that are learned through our experience, reflection and faith. So, during a life lived to the fullest, with love, and in service, Bob found his final niche as a teacher, living and working in the footsteps of the one great teacher, with whom he is now walking home. "There is a purpose for this day, A meaning that transforms Our heart from fear and darkness Into light and faith and hope." - Father Bob Adams

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O'Hair & Riggs Funeral Chapel
515 Pine Street
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
(541) 884-3456
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Published in Herald And News on Mar. 18, 2014
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