North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Remembering Charlie Adams: Partner Organizations Share their thoughts

"I among many others, are deeply saddened by Charlie's passing. He influenced my life as a friend, professional colleague and extended member of our family. He was a visionary, someone always full of new ideas, and a person who had the ability to make things happen by and for others by sharing his own personal philosophy of serving others before self.

He lived every day of his life in dedication to young people and his professional and personal achievements were indicative of that commitment. Charlie pioneered countless ideas for developing the character and enhancing the growth and experiences of young people in North Carolina and was always willing to share them with other State Directors across the nation.

His guidance of the National Federation during his term as President were marked by unprecedented vision, planning and achievement. He helped set the organization's course in the right direction. 

He taught and demonstrated to me as well as others, that what really matters is what you leave behind when you are gone from this earth. 
A person must live and act in their own spirit if happiness is to be gained in life. In Charlie's case, it was a caring and loving spirit that guided his actions. It was a spirit of love of family, friends, faith, community and country. The long standing beliefs of honor, integrity and compassion and the need to share them with others including young adults.

These are the things Charlie leaves behind. He leaves them in the hearts and minds of those who knew him and were touched by those he influenced, most especially the young people all across this nation who participate in high school sports and activities.
That is why he will always remain in my heart and the hearts of so many others."
Robert "Bob" Kanaby
Former Executive Director
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

“Charlie Adams was the epitome of a gentleman. He treated everyone with respect and made you believe that his full attention was on you.  He was a wonderful friend who had the rare ability to bring out the best in others.

Charlie was the father of the NFHS Foundation. During his presidency of the NFHS, he challenged several other state executives to make a contribution to begin the Foundation. That effort lead to a Foundation worth over 5.5 million dollars today that funds important work in risk minimization for students along with supporting student leadership efforts in every state. It is a fitting legacy to a man who believed so strongly in the positive impact of high school sports and activities on the lives of our nation's young people.

It was a real treat to get a hand-written note of encouragement from Charlie often accompanied by a book of real meaning.  He had a way to lift your spirits when you needed lifting. Perhaps no one had a greater impact on the collective leadership of high school athletic and activity association leaders than Charlie.  His passing leaves a void for all of us who knew him and counted him as a friend. We send our deepest sympathies to Sue and the Adams family. Like so many others, I am a better person for having known Charlie.”

Bob Gardner
Executive Director
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

"Charlie was a true sportsman and an amazing advocate for high school athletics in North Carolina. He was highly respected and admired throughout the North Carolina sports scene, as well as nationally.  Charlie was a joy to work with because he was such a positive person and full of integrity. I was fortunate to work with him on a number of initiatives, including bringing NCHSAA Championships to college campuses.  I was even more fortunate to have him as a friend. He will be missed by many and remembered with great affection."

John Swofford
Atlantic Coast Conference

“There have been a few people in my life that when they talked, I listened. Charlie Adams was one of those people in my life. From his wealth of knowledge, to his commanding deep voice, to his caring personality and warm smile, Charlie was one of the most inspiring and gracious individuals I’ve known. I always felt better after spending time with Charlie, and his positive spirit was contagious. After every meeting and conference, I received a handwritten note from Charlie thanking me for my efforts. 

Charlie was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2001 and deservedly so. He was one of the key leaders in our organization – both at the state and national levels – during the past 50 years. There was never a doubt in my mind that Charlie was in this business because he loved and believed in high school sports, and he spent his entire 43 years in education making that experience better for millions of young people.

Certainly, this is a tough day for everyone who knew Charlie Adams because he had such a positive impact on so many people. I will smile every time I think of Charlie, however, because that more than anything else is what I remember about my friend, Charlie Adams.”

Bruce Howard
Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

"Charlie Adams was one of a kind. From the time I first met him at the NCHSAA’s development Summit in 1997, I was in awe of his ability to make you feel welcome and also to make you feel important. When I saw Charlie at various meetings or conferences, he always went out his way to ask how I was doing and how my family was. I could tell he loved his staff and they loved him in return – just the type of man he was. The work Charlie did through the NCHSAA Foundation to bring financial stability to high school sport in North Carolina is unmatched anywhere in North America.

We brought Charlie up to Alberta, Canada to speak at a special ASAA anniversary in 2000. He and Sue followed that function with a visit to our beautiful Canadian Rockies; every time we talked he would remind me how special that trip was for he and Sue. Charlie welcomed my staff to the NCHSAA Captains and Coaches Conference and we now run our own version of that excellent initiative in Alberta. His legacy lives on far beyond North Carolina.

My life is better for knowing Charlie Adams and I wish my sincere condolences to Sue and family."

John Paton
Executive Director, Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association
President, School Sport Canada

“The general public may not know the name, but Charlie Adams was a giant in North Carolina sports, impacting all 100 counties. More importantly, Charlie Adams was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. He was kind, humble, and caring. He was a true gentleman.”

Scott Dupree
Executive Director
Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance