William Glenn Adams
Aug. 13, 1943 – Feb. 11, 2018
William Glenn Adams, 74, died Feb. 11, 2018, in Anchorage.
“The world has lost one of its best story tellers and an exceptional man,” his family said.
Charming, vibrant, funny, and fully-committed to his every endeavor, Bill Adams lived life to its fullest and yet always made time for everybody who ever loved and needed him, a quality his children, Jocelyn and Laura, cherished. He would always stop what he was doing to answer their questions and then take the next step to be sure they understood how the thing they’d asked about really worked. He imbued his children with the curiosity to fully explore their interests, encouraged their pursuits, and made them feel deeply loved.
Although his first marriage to Cheryl Craven did not last, Bill was a caring former husband. He worked closely with Cheryl to raise their children without the conflict that often characterizes divorce. Bill always remembered Cheryl on Mother’s Day with roses.
As the grandson of Joe Adams, a true Texas cowboy on the Goodnight Trail, Bill pointed out that when he was born on Aug. 13, 1943, during World War II, it was on the Army post at Fort Sill, a federal reservation, not Oklahoma. The only son of the late Glenn Carl Adams (1894-1974) and the late Audrey Leah Kelley Adams (1911-1974), Bill spent his youth in Texas where he excelled academically and musically. He played first chair trombone in high school, and in a rare honor, as a freshman at Texas A &M. The latter caused him unceasing hazing at what was then a military college. After he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, he often said he discovered wine, women, and scholastic probation, all in one semester.
Five years later, in 1968, with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in hand as well as graduate study in nuclear engineering, Bill began his career as an electrical engineer. He soon found that although engineering satisfied his need to know how things worked, it lacked the excitement he craved. The fast-paced and growing minicomputer industry beckoned. With Data General in Texas and California, he led his teams to record achievements, retiring one sales award by winning it four times in a row with his organization. Along the way he trained a new generation of managers and coached innumerable sales reps to greatness. He was attracted to the high tech side of the computer industry by the opportunity to learn about the fields of endeavor that put these new tools to work.
After leaving Data General, Bill was sought by many computer industry start-ups. He joined Speech Systems Inc., a voice recognition company, as VP of Sales and Marketing where he applied his creativity to help shape a market for this “bleeding edge” technology 30 years before anyone heard of Siri or Alexa. Macromedia next benefited from Bill’s skill at taking new technology to market. Bill’s last post in the high tech industry saw him as VP of Sales and Marketing for Pixar. When Steve Jobs asked Bill to join him, it was Bill’s strategy that led to Pixar’s RenderMan becoming the industry standard for 3D image processing. It was also Bill who helped create the partnership with Disney Studios that resulted in so many wonderful animated movies. One of Bill’s happiest achievements was earning a credit on Tin Toy, the first computer-generated animated film to win an Academy Award – “A special thank you to Bill Adams.”
On Independence Day, 1980, Bill married Brenda Crouthamel in a “surprise wedding.” Given their strongly independent personalities, the irony of this date was not lost on their many friends. They forged a strong partnership founded on respect, love, and devotion that lasted until Bill’s death 37 years later. Their shared interests and the enjoyment they found in each other’s pursuits, successes, and simple companionship was obvious to all who knew them.
In 1991, Bill and Brenda decided to retire from the computer industry while still young. They shocked their friends when, after a five day visit to Alaska, they returned to southern California and announced they were moving to Homer. There, Bill and Brenda lived a rich life spiced with adventure, travel, fishing and outdoor sports. Bill also pursued his love of history, reading deeply and broadly. He loved to explore an era of history, studying the important players and how their roles intersected. This detailed understanding of the past informed his writings about the present. He shared his thoughts about politics and current trends with a large group of folks who looked forward to what he called his screeds.
Bill Adams was one of those unique people who could hold the attention of a room full of people when he told a story. He loved to read poetry by the fire, sit at the apex of a triangle with his big speakers blasting while listening to mid-century jazz and Dixieland, and cook a great meal for friends. Having studied cooking in Venice under Marcella Hazan, northern Italian cuisine was his specialty. Beautiful things moved him whether it was nature, music, art, or a play. He loved George Carlin’s humor, Willie Nelson’s music, and Monty Python’s silliness. And he loved all of his dogs, each in their turn.
After a life filled with love and laughter, Bill Adams died quietly late Sunday night, Feb. 11, 2018, holding Brenda’s hand and listening to Ella and Louie sing “You Can’t Take That Away from Me.”
He is survived by his wife, Brenda, daughters Laura Adams Woolley and Jocelyn Adams Eisenlohr, sons-in-law Mathew Woolley and Frederick Eisenlohr, and grandchildren Cameron Woolley, Renee Woolley, Emma Woolley, and Theodore Eisenlohr, as well as first wife, Cheryl Craven.
At Bill’s request there will be no service, but those who’d like to make a donation in his memory, please consider his favorite charity, the Salvation Army.