Earl Adams

Obituary of Earl W. Adams

Earl W. Adams passed away on the evening of August 31 at his Pasatiempo home. He was 91. He leaves a loving family, a long list of dear friends and former students and athletes who fondly remember him as Coach Adams where he spent his career in the Campbell Union High School District in San Jose. 

He was born in Salinas, California on June 16, 1932 to Raymond and Lena Adams.  He was the playful middle child to brother to Raymond Jr. and his sister Marlene Adams Mariani. both of whom predeceased him. His athletic and social abilities emerged early in his life where he acquired the nickname Smiley.  

Shortly after graduating from Salinas High School in 1950, he enrolled at Hartnell College where he played football on what would become the legendary Junior Rose Bowl team in 1952. He and his teammates were recently honored with membership in the Hartnell Athletic Hall of Fame. They formed a tight bond of friendship that has held through the decades. 

Following Hartnell, his path included a stint in the Army where he was drafted in the Korean Conflict. While he saw it as opportunity to see the world, proof of his characteristic optimism, he wound up just a few miles down the road at Fort Ord where he played football under a very competitive general who was out to win against other Army base teams. When his children later learned of this, they loved to taunt by asking him to tell what he did in the war. He loved sharing funny stories from that experience. 

It was during this time that he married and started a family with his wife Elena. They became the proud parents of four children, Neil, Valerie, Lisa, and Julie. He also accepted a full athletic scholarship at San Jose State University as he completed his BA and moved on to a long career in high school education and coaching for the Campbell Union High School District. During that time, he earned an MA in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. 

One of his early football teams won a league championship at Leigh High School. When Prospect High School opened in the late 1960s, he joined the faculty and stayed until the last phase of his career where he moved to become an administrator at the district office. He has maintained contact with many of his players and students over the years. Despite his athletic role, he was a model of restraint, motivating his students and players without resorting to rough language. 

After a divorce in the 1970s, he married Marcia Williams in 1980. She was enchanted by one of his early suggestions for an outing – a day hike to the top of Half Dome in August. Apparently, he was enchanted that she actually agreed to do it.  Forty-four years later they were still enchanted with one another. 

His other fun-filled activities included a busy schedule of tennis matches at West Valley College, weekly golf games (a hole in one on his 85th birthday), downhill skiing into his early 80s, Yosemite backpacking, extensive world travels with lots of beach time in Kauai. Most of all, Earl derived his joy from being with his ever-expanding family.  He also devoted a lot of time to serving as a board member for the San Jose State Alumni Association, Santa Cruz Chapter. 

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Marcia, his four children, Neil Adams, Valerie Curatola (Dom), Lisa Schuman (Rolf), and Julie Gutierrez (Butch) and his stepsons, Scott (Pamela) and Mark (Christine) Williams plus 10 adoring adult grandchildren and their spouses. To his immense joy, he was the beloved “GG” to an ever-increasing number of great grandchildren. He was also a loving uncle to his sister’s six children. 

Earl firmly believed in the adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This exemplifies the legacy he leaves behind of kindness, compassion, and generosity that will forever resonate with all who had the privilege of knowing him. 

Earl’s idea of heaven would be full of warm beaches, cold rum and coke, a Giants game on the radio, and a family gathering in his own backyard. His twinkling blue eyes, spontaneous smiles, and generous spirit will be missed by all who knew him.  


Celebration of Life

2:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Sunday, October 8, 2023
Back Nine Grill
555 Highway 17 Pasatiempo Exit
Santa Cruz, California, United States