HOLMES BEACH — Long-time Anna Maria Island resident and Holmes Beach’s first police chief H.W. “Snooks” Adams died Monday at the age of 92.
Mr. Adams, born in Cortez on April 24, 1918, spent most of his life in Cortez and on the island except when he served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater.
Married to Elizabeth for more that 40 years, the couple was known and well liked across the island.
“He was a charming soul that would make you laugh,” said Elizabeth, known to her friends as Liz. “You never knew what he was going to say.”
Mr. Adams will be remembered for his work with children and keeping them out of trouble. In 1954, he took about a dozen boys to the beach for a day of food, fun and games, which became an annual event known as “Snooks” Adams Day, with hundreds of children enjoying food and activities.
“He just loved kids,” said Elizabeth Adams.
County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who grew up in Holmes Beach and served as commissioner and mayor of the city, said children felt safe with Mr. Adams as police chief. “When we were kids and you had a problem, you could go to the police department,” Whitmore said.
John Rudacille, who has been a neighbor of the Adamses for 40 years, said Mr. Adams was his best friend.
“He would do anything for you,” Rudacille said, “but he loved to play jokes on you. He was a character.”
Rudacille said he remembers asking Mr. Adams if he felt very important when then Gov. Lawton Chiles named him Florida citizen of the year on his 80th birthday.
“He said, ‘No, but the governor did,’” Rudacille said.
When Mr. Adams returned home after the war, he started a business installing seawalls. In 1953, he began working for the Bradenton Beach Police Department as an auxiliary officer, then in 1955 he signed up with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and was responsible for patrolling the island.
The City of Holmes Beach decided to start its own police department in 1963 and hired Mr. Adams as chief.
Known as a plain-talker, Mr. Adams would use the trait in his police work. “He was from a different time and era of policing,” said Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine, “but his values and people skills never went away.”
Romine said he met Mr. Adams after his retirement in 1978, but that the former police chief still had an influence on how the current chief runs the department.
“I would continue to ask him for advice,” Romine said. “But if you didn’t want an honest answer, don’t ask him a question. Snooks just never sugar-coated anything.”
Mr. Adams is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; a daughter, Georgia Lee Jones, of Bradenton; a son, Randy, of Tallahassee; one sister, Mabel Dawn Hipp, of Sarasota; three brothers, C.D., of Sebastian, Cleveland “Kewpie” of California, and Clayton “Jap” of Bradenton; five grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Crosspointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Anna Maria Privateers’ Snooks Adams Kids Day, Crosspointe Fellowship or any charity of your choice.