James Blackburn Adams

Portrait of James Blackburn Adams No Headstone Photograph Available

Full Name: James Blackburn Adams
Location: Section:Patriots' Hill, Section 1 (A)
Row:F  Number:9
Reason for Eligibility: Member, Texas House of Representatives 
Birth Date: December 21, 1926 
Died: April 25, 2020 
Burial Date: Cremation 

ADAMS, JAMES BLACKBURN (1926 ~ 2020). The following is an obituary for James Blackburn Adams, former member of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Department of Public Safety director. The obituary was provided by Grimes Funeral Chapel of Kerrville. 

Our most remarkable husband and father passed away suddenly on the evening of April 25, 2020. Like many others of his generation he lived a life that represented the best of America and of Texas. He was kind, intelligent, humorous, hardworking, patient and loving, and he valued above everything, honesty, justice, and integrity.

Jim Adams was born to Lynn and Florence Adams in Corsicana, Texas in 1926. He was the youngest of three. His family lived through the Depression by dint of his father's multiple jobs augmented by raising chickens and eggs behind their small house. Later they moved to Mexia, Texas where Jimmy studied, raised and rode horses, worked part time, learned to drive, and made lifelong friends.

In 1943 at the age of 17 he volunteered and after posting high enlistment test scores was recruited into the Army Specialized Training Program. He was assigned to LSU where he completed two semesters of engineering studies making the Dean's List each time before the Army cancelled the ASTP and assigned him to Japanese combat language training and active duty. His official report date was D-Day, June 6th, 1944. After completing language training at Yale he turned 18 and was sent to Basic Training at Ft. Hood. Afterwards he was sent for additional language training at the University of Minnesota before boarding a troop ship for Japan where he had been assigned as Tech Sergeant to a combat unit. He was 5'6" tall and weighed 110 lbs. The war in Japan ended before he arrived and he spent almost two years in Tokyo as part of the US occupying forces.

After mustering out he used the money he saved and the GI Bill to buy a car and obtain his law degree (LLB/JD) and then BA at Baylor. After graduation he became the assistant prosecuting attorney in Grosbeck, Texas where he narrowly escaped a courthouse shooting by an irate father in a child custody case. In 1951 with a campaign budget of $50 he successfully ran for the Texas Legislature and was elected - at the age of 24. One of his key legislative actions was to push through a bill to ban cash payouts from slot machines a key business of organized crime throughout Texas at the time.

Having then decided to make his career in law enforcement, later in 1951 he resigned from the Legislature to accept an appointment to the FBI as Special Agent. Given Jim was only 5'6", he did not meet the minimum height requirement for special agents but upon review of his qualifications Director Hoover issued a waiver to allow his hire. Over his 27 years with the Bureau he served in various roles and locations attaining the position of Associate Director, the number two position in the FBI. He held key positions in the investigation into President Kennedy's assassination, organized crime, and cold war counter intelligence. After Watergate, because of his reputation for integrity, he was brought back to headquarters from the field specifically to identify and execute improvements throughout the Bureau. He also then spent 100s of hours testifying before congress during the Watergate investigation hearings. He received both the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. In 1978 he served for a short time as Acting Director.

He retired from the FBI in 1979, becoming the Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Division of the Texas Governor's Office, and then in 1980, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers a job he particularly desired and cherished as a true Texan. He retired in 1987 but continued for the rest of his life to talk about the wonderful, dedicated people he had the honor of working with in both the FBI and DPS.

More importantly for his family though, during his first posting to FBI headquarters in 1954 he met Ione Winistorfer, a very pretty and very intelligent young woman who was working in the Administrative Division. Over the next 65 years he repeatedly called their marriage the 'the smartest decision he ever made'. Jim and Ione had three children, James Jr., Elizabeth, and Martha Wolcheski, all three married and have children. The extended family has always remained close.

At his passing Jim leaves behind his wife Ione, their children along with spouses Debbie Adams and Frank Wolcheski, seven grandchildren (Katherine, James III, Nick, Kelsey, Chloe, Bridgitte, and Blake), six great-grandchildren (Jaime, Lillian, Charlotte Jean, Evelyn, and Ezra), nephews, nieces, and lastly those close friends, who unlike him, have so far escaped the tragic inevitability of age. We miss him terribly, and cannot yet imagine getting over the pain of his loss.

Services will be scheduled at a later date.




Served as a Member of the Texas House of Representatives during the 56th and 57th Legislatures.

Entered by Administrator on 6/11/1999

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