Olin L. Adams Jr., schools superintendent, dies

January 19, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

Olin L. Adams Jr., known for an economy of words, budget and educational programs during his 11 years as superintendent of Carroll County Schools, died of cancer Monday at his Westminster home. He was 73.

"He was a strong leader," said Robert E. Kersey, who was Dr. Adams' assistant superintendent for instruction. He took the helm between Dr. Adams' retirement and the selection of his successor.

"He knew what direction he wanted to take the school system in and he held firm to it," Dr. Kersey said.

Dr. Adams' career spanned four decades in four states. He was Carroll superintendent from 1976 to 1987, during a time of recession, increasing enrollment and residents pushing for a return to basics and less emphasis on "social problems," Dr. Kersey said.

Reading, writing, math and science were Dr. Adams' priorities, along with a belief in fiscal responsibility.

He submitted lean budgets, streamlined school board meetings and expected the same kind of economy from his administrators.

"He'd say, 'Bob, I want a report. Don't give me a lot of gobbledygook: Bring me a one-page report on this,' " Dr. Kersey said. "He was all business. We did it now; we didn't procrastinate with various things."

During Dr. Adams' tenure as superintendent, three new schools opened: Liberty High, Hampstead Elementary and the Carroll Springs School for special education.

Under Dr. Adams' leadership, Carroll Schools started a certificate program that exists today, said Lester Surber, supervisor of school facilities. In addition to their high school diplomas, students could pursue a particular certificate such as in accelerated academics or careers and technology.

It provides students with a structure for planning their courses and setting goals, Dr. Surber said.

Dr. Surber remembers Dr. Adams as a man who enjoyed his family and his work, and pursued few activities that would have taken him from either.

Dr. Adams' son, Olin L. Adams III of Athens, Ohio, said his father's personal strengths were also his professional ones.

"When I think about him, I think about the person with the most solid character that I've ever known," said Mr. Adams, who teaches accounting at Ohio University.

"He loved nature. He enjoyed the song of a mockingbird. And he loved his country," Mr. Adams said.

Most of his career was in the Midwest, between time spent in Maryland. Dr. Adams was born in Mount Holly and raised in Salisbury, both in North Carolina. He graduated from Pfeiffer Junior College in 1940 and Catawba College in 1942. He earned a master's degree from Ohio University in 1952, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1958.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, then worked as an accountant for Joseph E. Seagram & Sons in Baltimore and St. Louis in the late 1940s.

Dr. Adams began his education career as a teacher, then principal, in Wellston, Ohio. He returned to Maryland as supervisor of elementary education for Prince George's County in 1954, then accepted a position as superintendent in Oak Hill, Ohio, a year later. He also led school systems in Marietta and North Royalton, Ohio; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Warren, Mich., before coming to Carroll County in 1976.

He was a member of the Westminster United Methodist Church, Westminster Rotary Club, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, American Association of School Administrators, Phi Delta Kappa, the Horace Mann League and several other educational associations.

Besides his son, Dr. Adams is survived by his wife of 47 years, Juanita Vinson Adams of Westminster.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today at the Westminster United Methodist Church on East Main Street, with the Rev. David Highfield officiating. Burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky.

Pritts Funeral Home & Chapel, 412 Washington Road, is handling arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to Carroll Hospice, 95 Carroll St., Westminster, 21157.

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