CAPE ELIZABETH – On the day he was born in 1918, his father died in the world’s worst flu epidemic. Five years later his mother passed away.

He was wandering the streets of Rumford when a Lithuanian family took him into their home and raised him.

William A. “Whitey” Adams died Friday in Cape Elizabeth at the age of 92.

Mr. Adams had lived in Rumford for more than 90 years, moving to the Village Crossings in Cape Elizabeth last December after his health began to fail.

“My father was a special human being, he really was,” said a son, William Adams Jr. of Augusta.

Mr. Adams’ parents, William and Barbara Adams, immigrated to Pennsylvannia in the early 1900s from Lithuania.

They moved to Rumford to pursue work at the paper mill.

Mr. Adams was born with extremely blond hair. His fellow students teased him about his hair, earning him the nickname Whitey. It was a nickname that stuck throughout his life, even after he went to live at the Village Crossings.

“He used to say I started out as Whitey and I’m going to end as Whitey,” said his daughter, Jane Amero of South Portland.

Despite not having any parents or siblings, Mr. Adams learned that hard work, perseverance and having a positive attitude could carry him far in life.

He delivered newspapers in Rumford and Mexico, served as a caddy at the Oakdale Country Club, and excelled in school. He graduated from Stephens High School in Rumford in 1936.

He became so proficient at golf that he became a teaching golf professional at Oakdale Country Club where he eventually became the club champion, club president, and served on its board of directors.

“He was one hell of a golfer,” his son said. “He taught me how to play.”

But playing a sport did not earn the money he needed to support a family.

He and his first wife, Evangeline McInnis, raised four children.

He left golf to pursue a career at the Oxford Paper Co. in Rumford where he worked for more than 40 years, serving as foreman in the mill’s wood room.

He retired from the mill in 1983.

“The one thing he valued most was education. And he provided that for us,” Amero said.

“He was determined that all of his kids go to college,” his son said. “He was proud of us because he never had that opportunity.”

All four of his children attended college.

“His life is an amazing story after being left on the streets of Rumford,” Amero said. “He worked hard all his life.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]