Cape Gazette

Sen. Thurman Adams dies

By Kevin Spence | Jun 24, 2009

Sen. Thurman Adams, a popular Bridgeville legislator and one of the most powerful leaders in Delaware, died at about 9 a.m., Tuesday, June 23. Adams is also Senate president pro tempore. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, who confirmed Adams' death, said, “The state has lost an elder statesman, and I lost a friend."

He said Adams’ record speaks for itself. “He was one of the most powerful people in the state of Delaware. We didn’t always agree, but he was straight with me. I could walk into his office anytime and talk about anything. I will always cherish his friendship,” said Schwartzkopf.

Not only has the news shocked many Democratic leaders, it’s also sending the Senate into a tailspin, as legislators scurry to replace its leader.

Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Wilmington, said little information was given about his illness. She also said she believes the Senate will meet today, Tuesday, June 23, to determine a course of action without the Senate’s most senior leader.

“That’s a shock. The Senate leadership was getting conflicting information: he’s doing great; he’s not doing so well,” she said.

“Obviously, it leaves a huge hole. He was a gentleman, but he was a force. Here we are in the last four days of session without a pro tempore. For session purposes, the position needs to be filled. You hate to jump in there but we need to decide quickly. I imagine this will be the first order of business on the Senate agenda,” Peterson said. “I’m just shocked. He’s worked in the trenches a long time.”



Representative Mike Castle (R-Del.):

"With the passing of Senator Thurman Adams today, the Adams' family, Delaware and the state legislature have lost a true friend who was a strong and trusted leader. I have served with Thurman for many years- from my time as a State Senator through my service as Lt. Governor, Governor and a Member of the US Congress. Over that time, he was unwavering in support for his constituents and has always worked to achieve the greater good for Delaware. His word was his bond and I was able to confide in him many times over the years. Thurman also played a huge part in determining who served in the judiciary and other important posts in Delaware and his strong, positive force in our Legislature strengthened our courts and state for many decades. His passing will leave a huge hole in the General Assembly at a very important time. He will be deeply missed by many and I will closely hold the memories that I have of him, including several evenings we spent sitting on the porch at Woodburn when I was Governor discussing the events of the day, and his beloved Baltimore Orioles. He was a real friend to me over the years and I pass along my deepest sympathy to his daughters Lynn and Polly and the rest of his family."


Governor Jack Markell:

DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell released the following statement Tuesday in response to the news that Senate President Pro Tempore Thurman Adams Jr. passed away. The governor has ordered that flags fly at half-staff at all state buildings in honor of Sen. Adams. “Delaware lost one of its most respected and dedicated leaders today,” Markell said. “My thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Adams’ family during this difficult time. I want to thank them for sharing Sen. Adams with Delaware for so many years as the state is better off as a result of his decades of service. Sen. Adams dedicated most of his life to serving the public and there has not been a law passed in the last 30 years that he did not touch in some way. His legacy will be felt for generations.”


Sen. Tom Carper:

"This is a very sad day for Delaware.  A longtime friend, a lifelong servant of the people and a Sussex County icon, Thurman Adams will be sorely missed.  When I was governor, I had the good fortune of working closely with Thurman on many issues.  As a legislator and a business owner, Thurman worked tirelessly for the interests of Delaware's agriculture and business communities.  He also understood better than most Delaware's preeminent role in the corporate world, and he had a fierce commitment to our state's superior judiciary and to standing up for what he believed in most.

"Whether you agreed with Thurman's politics or not, you respected him.  Delaware is a far better place in which to live and work because of Thurman Adams, his stewardship and his steadfast leadership.

"I have fond memories of Thurman.  He was often my partner in the egg-toss contest and my host on Governor's Day at the state fair.  I loved spending the Fourth of July with Thurman and his family after the Bethany Beach parade every year, to name just a few.

"The executive committee that he chaired never blocked a single nomination that I sent to the senate as governor.  He served this state for 37 years, and for his service we will always be grateful.

"My thoughts are with all who knew him best and loved him most - daughters Polly and Lynn, his seven grandchildren and those three great-grandchildren.  Like those who passed before him, his wonderful wife Hilda and their son Brent, I am sure Thurman's spirit will live on in all of them."


Ron Sams, Sussex Republican Committee chairman

"Please join me and all the citizens of the State of Delaware in a silent tribute for our long time public servant, Sen. Adams. He served his constituents well for many years and will be remembered for years to come. It takes a special dedicated person to meet the obligations of serving in the legislative process for over 40 years. His presence and contributions to the Senate will be absent, but I'm sure his spirit will always be marked present.

Our thanks to you, Sen. Adams, for serving the state and Sussex Countians."

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