Biden offers eulogy for devoted servant, Thurman Adams Jr.

By Carol Kinsley

Family, friends and elected officials nearly filled the auditorium of Woodbridge High School in Bridgeville on Saturday, June 27, as they gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of state Senator Thurman Adams Jr. His eulogy was delivered by Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden described how he had met Adams in 1972, "a guy with such integrity, such confidence without arrogance, who knew who had no doubt about who he was." Invited to the Adams' home for dinner with his sons, Biden said he left with the feeling he had know Adams' wife Hilda his whole life. Quoting Marlowe, "Come, live with me, and be my Love, And we will all the pleasures prove..." Biden said of the couple, "It was unequivocally clear that they adored each other." Biden said this was the beginning of a close family relationship in which the two families shared triumphs and tragedies, victories and losses. "No one left such a permanent mark on Bridgeville than Thurman Adams," Biden continued. "Thurman never forgot this place. No matter how big a deal he became," he never lost his love for the town. Born in Bridgeville July 25, 1928, Adams married the former Hilda Marie McCabe in 1952. They shared 50 years together before her death in 2002. Adams was elected to the Delaware Senate in 1972. He was President Pro Tempore from 2003 until his death. Biden said, "When Adams talked of his greatest accomplishments, there were two things that stood out, at least to me." One, the 9-1-1 system that has saved hundreds of lives. The other, working to make it easier for those in need of organ transplants. The Adams' son Brent died while waiting for a liver transplant. "Churchill said the price of greatness is responsibility. For 35 years few in Delaware have borne a heavier burden on their shoulders. Our heart goes out to you. Your loss is consequential.

Adams was president of T. G. Adams & Sons Inc. "He liked to say he was still a farm boy at heart," Biden said. "Even from his death bed he was making calls about combining." To the family he said, "Your dad was an incredible guy. I honestly do not think we will see something like him for a long time." Adams' daughters Lynn Kokjohn and Polly Mervine shared favorite stories about their father, like the Monday nights when their mother went bowling and Adams would take them to Seaford for pizza, then home for popcorn and orange soda and TV. "Mom would bring home chocolate nut sundaes for dessert," Kikjohn said. Mervine urged their friends to "keep telling these stories." Kokjohn told how his grandsons had "really stepped up to the plate to care for their grandfather, whom they loved so dearly," when he was hospitalized. Adams became a father to them when their father passed away, she said. Jay Mervine, Adams' son-in-law, said, "It was a source of pride that he allowed me to call him Dad." A supporter of the Delaware State Fair, Adams loved to tell stories, he said. He recalled the time Adams was escorting Gov. Pete du Pont around the fairgrounds and had to leave to participate in a two-man milking contest. Objecting, when he lost, that he'd had a dry cow, Adams told du Pont, "I came in second." du Pont asked how fair manager George Simpson had fared. "He came in next-to-last," Adams told him. Summing up his thought, Mervine said, "We were blessed by the touch of this great man and will carry that with us forever." After the funeral, with grandsons as pallbearers, Adams' casket draped with the flag of Delaware, was guided behind an honor guard from the Delaware State Police to Bridgeville Cemetery a few blocks away, mourners, including Biden and his wife, walking in time to a soulful cadence beat by a drummer. Along the route, volunteers from the fire department in Bridgeville and other towns across the county who were helping with traffic control, stood at attention as the procession passed, a last salute to a true public servant.

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