Local Obituaries

A near half-century legacy with the Boy Scouts, leader Bob Adams dies at 83

Bob Adams, then about 37, with sons Jonathan, left, and Robertson, right, at Matheson Hammock Park in about 1971.
Bob Adams, then about 37, with sons Jonathan, left, and Robertson, right, at Matheson Hammock Park in about 1971. Courtesy Adams family

That lifeguard who plucked you out of the rip current and saved your life?

Chances are if he was a former Boy Scout he may well have been trained by Robert Adams.

Through 47 years as a leader, scoutmaster and co-founder of Troop 941 at Vineland K-8 Center in the Kendall area, Adams taught hundreds of scouts to swim and dozens of them to become lifeguards.

“At one point, Bob was the only certified lifeguard instructor in the South Florida Council. Many of the boys he trained found summer jobs as lifeguards. More importantly, several of the boys performed live-saving rescues because of their training,” said Barry Schwartzman, who joined Troop 941 with son Adam in 1992, soon after Hurricane Andrew swept through South Miami-Dade.

“Bob quickly became a friend, a mentor, and at times, a second father,” he said. “His encouragement kept me going as scoutmaster when the Troop was struggling to survive. Bob would not let me quit.”

Adams lost his fight against COPD, congestive heart failure and diabetes on April 13. He was 83.

Family and friends remember Adams as a leader who set the example.

Adams, born in Oak Park, Illinois, helped found Troop 941 out of Troop 491 that was then-sponsored by Kendall Presbyterian Church. His eldest son, Robertson, was a scout there when he was in second grade in 1971.

In 1972, several parents, including George Locus and Norman Bryan, opted to form the Kendall Friends of Scouting to be a nonprofit sponsoring organization. The group was granted charters for Pack (Cub Scouts) 941 and Troop (Boy Scouts) 941 and met at Vineland.

“When we first started the troop, I never expected it to last this long,” Locus told the Miami Herald when Troop 941 celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2002. “Bob Adams carried it to new heights; he's done one heck of a job.”

Adams, who had served in the Marine Corps in San Diego before graduating from Northwestern University with an English literature degree in 1959, organized the reunion event. “The reunion will almost be like going back in time,” he told the Herald at the time. (Troop 941 is currently sponsored by the Loyal Order of Moose, West Dade Lodge.)

Adams, who worked as a wholesale salesman for firms including IBM, Miami Exhibits, BP Oil Corp., Bostitch and Brinks Home Security, moved to Miami in 1962 with his wife, the late Marlene Enchelmayer Adams.

“As a priority, Dad put quality time with kids ahead of the traditional career ladder. He was always home by 5 and never much traveled without us,” said Robertson Adams, president of Flashhaus Publishing and a former webmaster for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and senior graphics reporter for the Herald.

“My brother and I are certainly better people today as a result of his mindfulness about raising good kids. We had a lot of freedom to explore and make mistakes — on campouts as kids, or later in our careers —without fear that we might anger him. With our own kids, Jonathan and I have each done our best to live up to his unconditional love.”

Fellow scout leaders would good-naturedly rib Adams about his hearing since it wasn’t as sharp as his other senses. Never a problem for Adams, though, Schwartzman said. “When it came to scouting, Bob heard more with his eyes than most people did with their ears.”

Adams is survived by his sons Robertson and Jonathan Adams. A memorial service will be held at noon May 13 at Riviera Presbyterian Church, 5275 Sunset Dr., near Miami.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen