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Harry Wakefield Adams


1926 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Harry Wakefield Adams Obituary
December 12, 1926 - March 1, 2017 His lord said unto him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter the joy of thy lord." (From the Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:23.) Harry Wakefield Adams was born December 12, 1926 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He was a good and faithful servant, and entered into the "Joy of his lord," at the age of 90 on March 1, 2017 in Palm Desert, California. He is survived by his third wife, Grace, and one daughter from an early marriage, as well as five grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Dr. Adams received an undergraduate degree at Drew University, a theological degree at Yale Divinity School, and a Doctorate degree at the School of Theology at Clairemont. At the age of 7, he became a gospel singer and appeared at many churches, lodges, amateur nights, and the radio station KDKA Pittsburgh. In 1951, when one of his professors at Yale said to him, "Go west, young man," he followed his advice, and settled in California, where he served United Methodist churches in Hawthorne, Alhambra, Burbank, and Granada Hills. He also served short interims in churches in Fillmore, Yucca Valley, and Chatsworth, and finally hung up his robe in 1995. As a theological student, he was given a dose of reality, when a Yale professor said to his class, "Remember, when you preach a sermon it is like dropping a feather in the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo." Though Dr. Adams' sermons may not have produced an echo, they were probably heard by thousands when he served two 1800 member churches. His sermons were broadcast on radio station KIVE from 1965 to 1972. He also had a radio talk show, "Let's Talk" KRLA from 1963 - 1965 where listeners would call in with questions on religion. The program held its audience of a quarter million each Sunday night from 9 pm to midnight. His weekly column, "Let's Talk," was published in the Alhambra newspaper from 1962 to 1965. Dan Thrapp, Religion Editor of the LA Times in 1967, wrote in one of his columns, "...it is safe to say that no one's mind drifts off during the sharp, incisive, contemporary prayers uttered by the Rev. Harry W. Adams at Burbank's First Methodist. His pastoral prayers are more like the late Peter Marshall's than anyone's we have heard." (Peter Marshall was United States Senate Chaplain in 1947.) Though not a cynic, Harry applied a three-way strict test to news events reported by journalists, "Oh yeah? Says who? So what?" The "Say's who?" often uncovered a bias that needed to be diluted when considering the truth and relevance of the news event. It has been said, that the real mark of strong character is the capacity to risk unpopularity. In 1965, Harry assumed that risk with many Southern California Clergy when they joined with 30,000 others to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery. His conservative congregation disapproved, and he paid the price by being asked to consider serving another church, but he never regretted his participation and the opportunity to demonstrably express a Christian support of civil rights. In a world that has become so loud, so obvious, so unappreciative of reflection and silence, it is hoped that his gentle, loving voice may stay alive in each and every one of us who knew and loved him.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 9 to Mar. 12, 2017
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