North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Remembering Charlie Adams: Past NCHSAA Board Presidents share remembrances

“North Carolina has lost a great man with the passing of Charlie Adams. I vividly remember the first time that I formally met Charlie, over 40 years ago. He had a presence as he entered a room.  From that first occasion, I watched him grow into the great man that he became. The one thing that I will always remember about him was his uncanny ability to recall names from the audiences at numerous meetings. It did not matter if he had not recently seen them: he still knew their names and their location and position in NC.

Later in my career, I had the pleasure and honor of becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the NCHSAA. During that service, I was given the opportunity to serve as President of the board for two terms, another honor that I will never forget. The opportunity to serve in that capacity was one of the highlights of my career. Working directly with Charlie and the staff further prepared me in my responsibilities as a superintendent in North Carolina. Additionally, this further contact with him in a direct relationship drew us closer together. He always made you feel like you were the most important person in the state regarding your service to the Association. He constantly wanted to know how your family was doing and learned more about their activities.

After leaving the Association, I continued to support and stay connected to Charlie and the Association. The importance of the work of this group is and continues to be of critical importance to the student athletes of our great state. We can credit Charlie with the leadership to develop this model program. I am very happy that I continued to talk with Charlie throughout this past summer and fall as he told me of his illness. Hopefully, I was able to add some comfort to him during his final days. 

Charlie Adams was a great leader, role model, and mentor to me. Most important is that he was my friend that impacted my life more that I think he ever realized.”

Dr. William “Bill” Steed
NCHSAA President 1995-1997

"First of all, I would offer my condolences to Sue and all of Charlie’s personal family and to his much, much larger working family. Every one of you were important to Charlie!  When I think of Charlie’s impact on education and to the young folk of this great state, I marvel at the legacy he left for us. I can’t help but think of other great education leaders such as Bill Friday, Craig Phillips, Leo Jenkins and the list might go on further if time and space permitted who left such a permanent mark on the value of education and the activities associated with secondary and post-secondary schooling. Charlie Adams, just like the others named loved his work, devoted his entire being to it, and provided the leadership that promoted excellence throughout North Carolina in high school athletics that was noticed across the United States.  

Charlie was one of the most skillful individuals I have ever known at accomplishing goals through building personal relationships. He would remember your name and call it out in a crowd of hundreds of people, he would never fail to ask about your family, he would turn a compliment given to him around and make it your accomplishment, and he would always find a meaningful way for the individual to be an integral part in the ongoing work of NCHSAA. In closing, I recall one of the things I often heard Charlie say when standing in front of an audience of NCHSAA supporters, “Wow, this group is surely made up of the great 'Who’s Who individuals in NC High School Athletics.” Charlie, we loved you and appreciated you for saying that, but all of us know that you are ‘the Who’s Who in North Carolina High School Athletics.”

Charles Long
NCHSAA President 2001-2002

“It seems to me that the challenge I face in seeking to honor Charlie Adams is in being all the things Charlie represented to me – in being honorable enough for he was honorable indeed, in being gentlemanly enough for he was a true gentleman, in being kind enough for he was never unkind, in displaying integrity for that could have been his watchword, in offering loyalty and love to my family, friends, and causes for loyalty was his lifeblood and his love was in full view, and in displaying great faith for his faith was indelible.  Charlie had an amazing talent for making everyone feel special, for making everyone feel accomplished, and for making everyone feel valued.  I will always be grateful for his friendship, for his guidance, for his confidence in me, and for his encouragement.  Working with him during my tenure as president of the Association was a true highlight of my career, one that I will cherish forever.  The mark he leaves on the NCHSAA can never be extinguished for he was the visionary that set the path the Association continues to pursue.  I’ll never enter the NCHSAA building or its athletic events without remembering my friend and without feeling blessed for his amazing contributions to high school athletics in our state and nation, and even more importantly, for his example of a life lived exceptionally.  Favored we all were to have him.”

Bob McRae
NCHSAA President 1997-1998

"My deepest sympathy and condolences to Sue and Charlie’s family.

I know the staff of the NCHSAA  are feeling this great loss of such a giant of a man as Charlie Adams.  His passing has left a void in our hearts that can never be filled.  Those of us who had the privilege to know and work with Charlie will carry his teachings, his love and his devotion for all our lives.  I had the great privilege of serving on the Board of the NCHSAA for many years and as President in 1990-1991.  Charlie was my mentor, advisor, and  friend and grounded me in my understanding of what it truly means to serve the thousands of student athletes across North Carolina.

I know of no more influential person in this great state than was Charlie.  His legacy will continue be a guiding force in educational academics as well as athletics as we continue to work for better opportunities  for all students.  I already miss him greatly and it saddens me to know that I can no longer pick up the phone and call my dear friend."

Larry Ivey

“North Carolina lost a great leader and friend. The impact Charlie Adams had on interscholastic athletics in the state and nation cannot be measured. Nor can the impact he had on thousands of students, coaches and others involved in athletics. He was the consummate professional and gentleman who had a knack for making everyone feel important when he interacted with them. Serving nearly 10 years on the NCHSAA Board and 2 terms as president was a highlight of my career.  Over the years Charlie became a mentor and a close friend. He will be missed. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Sue, the family and all those who loved Charlie. His was a life well lived.”

William “Bill” Harrison
NCHSAA President 2002-2003 & 2008-2009