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In Memoriam: Al Adams, 1932-2017

  • March 27, 2017

Raleigh, NC – J. Allen “Al” Adams, a beloved partner in the firm’s Raleigh office, passed away on Friday, March 24, at the age of 85.

Mr. Adams was a dynamic and energetic leader at the firm and in state politics. In 1967, Mr. Adams joined the law firm of Sanford Cannon founded by former Governor Terry Sanford, a local firm that would merge with Parker, Poe, Thompson, Bernstein, Gage & Preston and later become Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein.

An advocate for the underdog in both his trial work and his community, Mr. Adams put his beliefs about equality into practice. He played a vital role for civil rights in North Carolina. In addition to working tirelessly to end school segregation, in the 1960s Mr. Adams worked to end the all-white membership requirements of the Wake County Bar Association, then a routine part of bar association bylaws in the South. He was an ally to women in the legal profession and played a key role in the advancement of women at Parker Poe. Mr. Adams went on to serve five terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, and has been described by many as one of the most progressive voices in the state’s political history.

In addition to his accomplishments and contributions in the political and legal arenas, Mr. Adams was an avid supporter of education. He was a founding member of the Estey Hall Foundation, which honors and supports Estey Hall, the first building constructed for the higher education of women of color in the United States. His passion for improving the education system was exercised as he served as the first Board Chairman of the Wake County Public Libraries and on the Boards of both the Wake Technical Community College Foundation and the N.C. State University Physical and Mathematical Sciences Foundation.

Involvement in arts and history was a prominent aspect of Mr. Adam’s life as he served as a Director of the North Carolina Museum of History Associates and as a Trustee of the North Carolina Symphony Society. Mr. Adams had a true passion for opera; he served as a Director of what is now the North Carolina Opera Company for more than a decade, and even appeared as the cook in a production of Madame Butterfly in 2008.

Mr. Adams’ commitment to the City of Raleigh was honored in 2012 when he was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame.

“Al treated every person at this firm, regardless of position, with genuine love and respect. He was our hero, mentor and partner but more important, he was our friend,” said Bruce Thompson, who worked closely with Mr. Adams during his tenure at Parker Poe. “Al taught us by example how to use our talents to make the world a better place. That legacy will live on in the hearts of the people whose lives he touched.”

Al Adams will be remembered as a fierce advocate for equality and an enlightened leader who made permanent and positive differences in the firm and community. We shall miss him. Read more about Mr. Adams' legacy here.

About Parker Poe

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP has approximately 200 lawyers in seven offices located in major markets across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The firm provides legal counsel to large public corporations, private middle-market companies as well as  governments and municipalities.

Parker Poe is a member of TerraLex, one of the world’s leading international legal networks. With 155 member law firms and 19,000 attorneys in 100 countries, TerraLex members provide the legal resources and expertise needed to conduct seamless business worldwide.