James “Jim” R.C. Adams

Professor Emeritus James “Jim” R.C. Adams passed away peacefully on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, after a brief illness. He was 90 years old. Born in Fairmont, West Virginia, on Oct. 5, 1928, to Arnold Luther and Cecelia “Billye” Margaret (Creighton) Adams.

Jim attended Fairmont State College and earned undergraduate degrees from George Washington University and the Corcoran School of Art. He earned his Master of Fine Arts at the Instituto Allende, at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. During the Korean War, Jim served two years in the United States Army receiving the rank of sergeant in the Counter Intelligence Corps as well as becoming a free-lance artist for Pan-American Union.  He spent three years in England studying at Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art.

Jim joined the Manchester University faculty in 1957. He spent the next 51 years teaching and mentoring young minds before retiring in 2008 and continued to teach classes for two additional years. Jim taught in the art, English, music and Spanish departments, integrating service and interdisciplinary approaches to learning. His courses included painting, drawing, art history, photography, and a course called Experiencing the Arts, among others. Jim also was instrumental in developing First-Year Colloquium courses, designed to help first-year students apply writing, research and communication skills to an interesting topic. In 2002, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement for Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education named Jim U.S. Professor of the Year, the nation’s premier honor for extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching.

Jim was passionate about global travel and leading students in study abroad experiences, and he loved to apply what he learned to his teaching. He was instrumental in starting January Term international trips beginning in 1969.
He taught abroad as an exchange teacher at the Melanchton-Schule in Germany from 1961 to 1962, and from 1973 until 1975, Jim was the Director of Brethren Colleges Abroad at the University of Barcelona, Spain. He returned to Barcelona in 1984 as a Faculty-in-Residence for DePauw University. Jim spoke 5 languages and read 7 others in addition to English. He traveled to over 60 countries.

Throughout his adult life, Jim was a practicing artist and won numerous awards for his painting, photography and art restoration. Pieces of Jim’s art can be seen locally and around the world. Jim also loved working with film, as he helped the town of North Manchester with historical videos such as “A Sense of Place” and made numerous documentary films.

A longtime resident of North Manchester, Jim did much to strengthen and enrich the community, working on community development, town planning and researching funding opportunities for town projects. He directed important restoration projects of historic buildings in nearby communities. He was a frequent lecturer at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and broadcast a yearlong radio series about classical music on a Fort Wayne radio station. Jim could often be seen on the Fort Wayne news channels being interviewed for his knowledge on different art pieces or restoration projects. He wrote the program notes for the Manchester Symphony Orchestra concerts for 40 years.

Jim’s humor, love, kindness, and mentoring will be forever remembered by all who knew him.  He is survived by his wife, Thelma S. Rohrer, whom he married on June 1, 1991; one son, John E.C. Adams, Decatur, Indiana; and one sister, Sue (Pete) Spencer, Tallahassee, Florida. Jim was preceded in death by his son, Bradford “Brad” M. Adams, who passed away July 8, 2002.

Visitation and services were Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019 at the Jo Young Switzer Center, Manchester University, North Manchester. Arrangements are entrusted to McKee Mortuary. A memorial guest book is available at

For those who wish to honor the memory of Jim Adams, memorial contributions may be made to Manchester Symphony Society, P.O. Box 113, North Manchester, Indiana 46962, Manchester University Department of Art, 604 East College Avenue, North Manchester, Indiana 46962 or Manchester University Study Abroad Award, 604 East College Avenue, North Manchester, Indiana 46962.

Posted on 2019 Aug 13