Reverend Robert Lazenby Adams, age 91, of Norwalk died peacefully Friday, December 18 in Norwalk.
A private family service will be held.
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Reverend Robert Adams' Life Story
Reverend Robert Lazenby Adams was born on May 23, 1929, in Rochester, New York to Benjamin and Georgia Adams. Robert was named after his maternal grandfather, Robert Lazenby, the inventor of the original formula for Dr. Pepper.
Robert attended school in Florida, Georgia, and New York as the family moved with his father’s business, General Outdoor Advertising. Robert graduated from high school in Riverton, New Jersey and attended the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a degree, with Honors, in modern European history.
In 1951, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the outbreak of the Korean War. Robert was assigned to the 6969 Armed Forces Security Squadron in the Intelligence Unit, stationed in Washington D.C. where he remained until being honorably discharged in 1955.
While in the Air Force, Robert attended evening law classes at The George Washington University School of Law. Robert continued his studies in law at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.
In 1956, Robert evaluated his vocational desires which led to his decision to consider a career in ministry. Robert attended the Divinity School at Harvard University. Robert graduated in 1959 and was ordained in the United Church of Christ by the Dean of the Divinity School in Chappaqua, New York. Robert remained an ordained minister for 50 years. Robert served churches in Shelburne, New Hampshire and Chappaqua, New York where Robert met the love of his life, Judith Carol McLellan. Together, Robert and Judith embraced a lifetime of ministry, starting with a new church in Bayberry, New York.
Robert worked with a chaplaincy board at Syracuse University at the time and after the new church was constructed, they accepted a call to the campus ministry and to teach astronomy at the University of South Dakota. Robert financed his theological studies at Harvard by working at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge Massachusetts. His lifelong love of astronomy and his religious faith complimented each other throughout his life. As a result of Robert’s positive interactions with both the students and faculty, he was invited to serve as the Director of Student Affairs by the President of the University of South Dakota.
After 18 years of teaching and administration at the University of South Dakota, Robert and Judith returned to parish ministry. In 1983, they began to serve the First Congregational Church in Algona, Iowa, where they resided for 12 years. In 1995, Robert and Judith retired to Howard, South Dakota and lived on a rural acreage. Even in retirement, small churches called upon Robert to serve. The last church he served was in Canova, South Dakota where he ministered for 13 years.
Wherever Robert lived, he shared his love of astronomy with the community. Memorable star parties were conducted by Robert and he served as a subject matter expert when there were questions about phenomenon in the night sky. Robert served as a writer for astronomy articles in the Des Moines Register, the Rapid City Journal, and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Robert also helped develop the content for an educational video game titled, “Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?”
Robert spent the last two years of his life in the care of the Norwalk Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Norwalk, Iowa. Their loving care was deeply appreciated by the Adams family. Robert’s care was supplemented by Kindred Hospice. All the care givers became a “second family” for Robert. Robert was a wonderful husband to Judith for 60 years and a great father to his children, Elizabeth (Daniel) Rosenbaum of Jefferson, South Dakota; Meg Beshey of Fort Dodge, Iowa; Charlie (Mechile) Adams of Cumming, Iowa; and Carrie (Mounaim) Bouderka of Alameda, California. Robert adored his 5 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
Private services will be held for Robert’s immediate family. Expressions of Sympathy may be sent to the family at Judith’s residence or to Judith in care of O’Leary Funeral Home, 1020 Main Street, Norwalk, Iowa 50211.
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