Uriah Mason Adams

Updated: 26 September 2010

Clarice & Dr. U.M. Adams taken in September 1982

Wedding photo of Dr. U.M. Adams & Clarice Emma Nemmers with her mother, Margaret Theresa (Ley) Nemmers

Photo of Clarice & Dr. Adams in his office in Marcellus, MI.

More photos at the bottom of this page. If you have additional photos please contact Jim Adams (adamsmckain at gmail.com) for inclusion on this page.

The following appeared in the 10 September 1981 Marcellus News:

Dr. Adams' Day

More than 500 area residents packed the high school gymnasium for the "Dr. U.M. Adams Recognition Service" held Sunday, September 6, at 3:00 p.m. The day had been officially proclaimed by the Marcellus Village Council to honor Dr. Adams for 50 years of dedicated medical service to the area, and his wife, Clarice, a retired nurse, for 35 years of assistance.

The entire Adams family of five children, their spouses and 4 grandchildren were in attendance along with a number of Doc's classmates from the Class of '23.

Among the accolades read and presented during the service, presided over by master of ceremonies Tom Lowry were the following--

A letter of congratulations from the White House signed by President and Nancy Reagan.

A letter from the Michigan State Medical Association.

A plaque from the Marcellus Masonic Lodge presented by Jerry Townsend.

A tribute from State Senator Harry Gast's office presented by Mick Middaugh.

A plaque from the Marcellus Lions Club presented by Frank Townsend.

A lifetime pass to all Marcellus athletic events from the Athletic Boosters and Certificate of Appreciation from both the Athletic Department and the Board of Education for years of service presented by Varetta Powers.

A tribute from the Ladies Auxiliary of the V.F.W. presented by Jean Clime.

A tribute from the Marcellus volunteer fire department and ambulance service presented by Richard Olsen.

A plaque made and presented by his son John.

The final presentation was made by Village President Don Ludman who gave Doc a "Key to the Village" and announced that by special order of the Village Council the former Section Street in the village has been renamed to recognize the honoree to "Adams Street".

The Adams' son Jim spoke briefly recalling some of the highlights of life in the family of a country doctor.

During his career Doctor Adams delivered more than 600 babies and a fitting part of the tribute was his reunion with the Townsend triplets who he brought into the world in 1953. The still remain the only set of triplets born in Cass County.

The good Doctor himself stepped to the podium to deliver some closing thoughts to climax the day of tribute to one of the most dedicated and outstanding human beings most of us will ever be privileged to know.

***

The following story appeared in the 14 August 1980 issue of the Marcellus News and was written by Linda (Maher) Adams:

Dr. U.M. Adams Honored For 50 Years Of Medical Service

(Picture of Dr. and Clarice Adams holding a plaque made by their son, Jim. Caption reads: DR. URIAH MASON ADAMS and wife Clarice were recent guests at a special banquet ceremony at which Dr. Adams received an award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians for 50 years of practicing medicine. Dr. Adams is displaying a plaque made and designed by son Jim.)

Dr. Uriah Mason Adams, Marcellus physician for nearly 50 years, was one of eight doctors honored by the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians at the 34th annual banquet held July 28 in Traverse City, Michigan.

His career started in the days of house calls and $1.00 office visits. He has seen the advent of penicillin; the near eradication of childhood epidemic diseases and the perfection of surgery. He has also delivered more than 600 area babies during his 50 year career and in some families has been the only doctor for as long as four generations.

Dr. Adams and his seven colleagues were paid tribute by members of the AAFP for marking one half century as family physicians. In attendance at the ceremony were John S. Derryberry, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Donald E. DeWitt, M.D., president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

William G. Grigsby, Kansas City, guest speaker at the award ceremony, told the guests present that it was humbling to be able to address eight men whose service and dedication to humanity had begun 50 years ago.

A native of the area, Dr. Adams was raised on the family farm eight miles north of Marcellus in Van Buren County. He graduated from Marcellus High School in 1923. He then attended Western Michigan State Teacher’s College before entering medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In June of 1930 he graduated from medical school and began his internship.

Dr. Adams opened his first office in town on October 22, 1931 in the hotel named Frank’s Tavern. At that time he shared a waiting room with Dr. Roscoe Snyder and after Dr. Snyder closed his office the waiting room was changed to the hotel where it remained until 1938.

The next office for Dr. Adams was located in a suite above the G.W. Jones Exchange Bank. The office remained above the bank until 1950 when it was moved to its present location at 218 S. Jones St.

At various times during his career Dr. Adams has practiced at the Three Rivers General Hospital, Borgess and Bronson Hospitals in Kalamazoo and in 1949 was Chief of Staff at Lee Memorial Hospital, Dowagiac. Dr. Adams is still on staff at Lee Memorial and was recently honored by physicians there for his 50 years of medicine.
Another member of the Adams’ family also deserves significant praise for offering medical assistance to the community for over 35 years. On September 21, 1943 Dr. Adams gave up boarding at the local hotel when he married Clarice Nemmers of LeMars, Iowa, a registered nurse he had met at Lee Memorial Hospital.
Mrs. Adams received her nurses training at Sacred Heart Hospital in LeMars and often during the past 37 years, she, too, has administered medical attention to the residents of Marcellus. Throughout the years when the doctor’s office was located adjacent to their home she has assisted him in emergencies and during office hours and for the last five years she has been his full time assistant.

Five decades is indeed a long time but Dr. Adams remembers his early days of medicine most clearly. When patients first visited him in his office at Frank’s Tavern the charge for office calls was a mere $1.00. The fee for delivering a baby in those days was $15 whether he spent an entire day at the house or only a couple of hours.
When he began his practice during the early days of the depression about half of his daily routine was to make house calls to ailing patients within a 16 mile radius. His office at those times was a Model A with a maximum speed of 65-70 miles per hour depending on if you traveled the improved gravel roads or the unimproved roads with mud and potholes.

In the early years of his practice, Dr. Adams saw many times when patients and physicians were forced to improvise to supply the necessary medical care. One winter he traveled by sleigh to deliver a premature infant weighing only two pounds. Neither the mother nor the baby could travel to the hospital so the family rigged up a homemade incubator and kept the baby in a shoe box.

Another winter during the depression Dr. Adams was visited by a man who walked eight miles along a railroad track to ask him to make a call on a sick friend. The next day the doctor drove through deep snow as far as Schoolcraft where he was met by a sleigh. Attired in a WW1 aviator suit for warmth the doctor was transported from point to point by various sleighs. Every time he came to a fence the sleigh couldn’t cross he climbed off the sleigh, over the fence and onto another sleigh until he reached his destination.

In the early years when Dr. Adams began practicing medicine there were no immunizations for pneumonia, erysipelas, measles or even whooping cough and no confirmed treatment. In the 1930s there was no penicillin and chloroform was the most common anesthesia. For many years he had to boil his syringes to sterilize them after each injection because there were no disposable syringes.

Throughout the nearly five decades of practicing medicine in Marcellus, Dr. Adams has never turned away a patient in need, whether they came to his home in the middle of the night or during a holiday dinner. Many times those unable to pay the doctor’s fee brought foodstuffs such as geese, chickens, eggs and vegetables in exchange for his services.

Both Doc, as he is known to his many friends in town, and Mrs. Adams have been greatly involved in the community through the years. They have been active in such areas as church and school functions, scouting and volunteer work and for 12 years Dr. Adams served on the school board.

Professionally he has been a member of the American Medical Ass’n., since 1931 and in 1973 was named a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practitioners. He belongs to the Cass County Medical Society and the Michigan State Medical Ass’n.

Also present along with Mrs. Adams to see the doctor receive his 50 year award on July 28 were their five children and four grandchildren.

The entire family gathered at Traverse City to mark the occasion. Coming for the ceremony were son George and wife Chris of South Bend, Indiana; son John of Fredericksburg, Virginia; daughter Margaret and husband Robert Wetherell of Reed City; son James and wife Linda of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; and daughter Mary and husband Michael West of Marcellus. Also present were grandchildren Adam and Amy Wetherell of Reed City and Jimmie Uriah and John Stephen Adams of Sturgeon Bay. This was the first time the entire family has been together for a number of years.

Also present at the convention was Dr. Cotton of Marcellus who was installed as a director of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Adams is now about to embark on his sixth decade of medicine and still he and Mrs. Adams have not decided to bring in their shingle. Between the two of them they have proved this community with over 80 years of medical service and while they have cut back their hours it appears that Dr. Adams is not yet ready to quit practicing medicine.


***

The following article appeared in the Marcellus News (03 September 1981):

"Community To Honor Dr. Adams For 50 Years of Service"

Sunday, September 6 has been officially designated by Village officials as "Dr. Adams Day", with festivities planned to appropriately honor a man who has given 50 years of his life to serving the medical needs of this area.

A luncheon, by invitation only, for Dr. and Mrs.Adams' family and close friends will be served from 2 to 3 p.m. in the high school. At 3:00 p.m. a "Recognition Program" will take place in the high school gym, which will be followed by a coffee hour and open house. The public is invited to attend the 3 p.m. service and extend their congratulations and appreciation to the Adams' during the "Coffee Hour."

A native of the area, Dr. Uriah Mason Adams was raised on the family farm eight miles north of Marcellus in Van Buren County. He graduated from Marcellus High School in 1923. He then attended Western Michigan State Teacher's College before entering medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In June of 1930 he graduated from medical school and began his internship.

Dr. Adams opened his first office in town on October 22, 1931 in the hotel named Frank's Tavern. At that time he shared a waiting room with Dr. Roscoe Snyder and after Dr. Snyder closed his office the waiting room was changed to the hotel where it remained until 1938.

The next office for Dr. Adams was located in a suite above the G.W. Jones Exchange Bank. The office remained above the bank until 1950 when it was moved to its present location at 218 S. Jones. St.

At various times during his career Dr. Adams has practiced at the Three Rivers General Hospital, Borgess and Bronson Hospitals in Kalamazoo and in 1949 was Chief of Staff at Lee Memorial Hospital, Dowagiac. Dr. Adams is still on staff at Lee Memorial and was recently honored by physicians there for his 50 years of medicine.

Also in for a share of the "thank you's" she well deserves is the other half of the Adams medical team. Doc's wife Clarice who has been his assistant for over 35 years.

On September 21, 1943 Dr. Adams gave up boarding at the local hotel when he married Clarice Nemmers of LeMars, Iowa, a registered nurse he had met at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Mrs. Adams received her nurses training at Sacred Heart Hospital in LeMars and often during the past 37 years, she, too, has administered medical attention to the residents of Marcellus. Throughout the years when the doctor's office was located adjacent to their home she has assisted him in emergencies and during office hours and for the last five years she has been his full-time assistant.

Dr. Adams tenure of service spans five decades and take him from the early days of the depression when he was often paid with produce or whatever his patients might have in place of money. He has seen the development and broad use of many forms of immunization andthe so-called "wonder drugs".

Throughout the nearly five decades of practicing medicine in Marcellus Dr. Adams has never turned away a patient in need, whether they came to his home in the middle of the night or during a holiday dinner.

Both Doc, as he is known to his many friends in town, and Mrs. Adams have been greatly involved in the community through the years. They have been active in such areas as church and school functions, scouting and volunteer work and for 12 years Dr. Adams served on the school board.

Professionally he has been a member of the American Medical Ass'n., since 1931 and in 1973 was named a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practitioners. He belongs to the Cass County Medical Society and the Michigan State Medical Ass'n.

Doc and Clarice have five children; George and wife Chris of South Bend, Indiana; John of Fredericksburg, Virginia; Margaret and husband Robert Wetherell of Reed City; James and wife Linda of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; and Mary and husband Michael West, of Reed City. Four grandchildren add to the Adams' family: Adam and Amy Wetherell and Jimmie Uriah and John Stephen Adams.

Dr. Adams has now embarked on his sixth decade of medicine and he and Mrs. Adams have not yet decided to take in their shingle. Between the two of them they have provided this community with over 80 years of medical service and while they have cut back their hours it appears that Dr. Adamas is not yet ready to quit practicing medicine.

***

From the South Bend Tribune (08 May 1977):

"He's kept Marcellus well for 46 years"

By Lin Hoppel-Walden, Tribune Correspondent

MARCELLUS -- In 1931 U.M. Adams, M.D., started practicing medicine in this village. At that time his office space spanned a hotel building and Frank's Tavern on Main St.

Now, after 46 years, he is still working at his first job, through which he has seen generations pass, the Marcellus community change, medicine advance and the government interfere.

Dr. Adams has worked alone since that first practioce, when he shared a reception room with Dr. Roscoe Snyder. Patients visited Dr. Adams from 1938-1949 in an office over the G.W. Jones Exchange Bank until he built his current office and residence at 128 S. Jones St.

For the last 17 years the only physician's shingle in town has been Adams'.

"I've been pretty busy," he says with some hesitation. "I guess I never took time to actually analyze it, though."

The 70-year-old doctor has cut back his hours some; he tries to keep Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons free. But that does not always work.

The successful of the Marcellus Lions Club's efforts to bring a medical center to town is likely to lighten Dr. Adams' workload further. The new facility will support one full-time physician and six others on an occasional basis.

However, even with the opening of the medical center last Monday, retirement is not what Adams has prescribed for himself.

"I don't believe that one should retire, or whatever you want to call it, and start rusting," he says.

"I have no immediate plans for retirement, although I certainly don't mind slowing up. I'll play it by ear. There are an awful lot of things I haven't had time to do," he explains.

"When I reach a point of becoming inefficient," says Adams, "I hope somebody points it out and says, 'Buddy, it's time to quit.' If I don't realize it, somebody, I mean my peers, not a bureaucrat, should tell me," he concludes.

His work has been "interesting and challenging. Rewarding from the point of view of advances medically." but "not so rewarding economically," says Dr. Adams.

He explains, "In the overall picture early childhood diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) and polio have been controlled. We're able to pick up more things and help in their management, for example, sophisticated scientific advances relative to heart conditions or dialysis for kidney problems."

The University of Michigan graduate grew up "midway between here and Schoolcraft" (a village eight miles from Marcellus). He attended school at Marcellus.

"Village-wise, it (Marcellus) hasn't grown perceptibly," Adams muses, "oh, maybe a little bit. But people are coming from somewhere to the community, as is characteristic of southwestern Michigan and even central Michigan."

He knows the townspeople. "Yes, I've been able to follow generations right down the line or up the line, whichever."

Although Adams has seen the coming and going of families, anecdotes that some people never cease to relate fail him.

"Unless one is really involved in something else, you've always thinging of one or another case that you're working on," he says.

"Oh, there's the earthy one which I won't tell," he says, "and the one where the person couldn't understand why he broke his cast, even though he jumped off the back of a truck with a walking cast on."

"I do remember an OB (obstetrics case) out in the country, in a hilly area. The water pump was out in the field, some distance from the house," says the doctor. "Early in the morning, about 3 or 4 a.m., I thought we'd have to have more water, so I went for it."

As he left, the family told Dr. Adams to watch out for a bull in the field.

When he got there, he says, "I didn't see anything, so I started pumping."

"Then I saw the bull come over a hill. He wasn't charging, but I didn't want to be in the same enclosure as he. So I went back to the house with three-quarters of a pail of water instead of a full one."

Commenting on the image of the general practitioner and the change of the times, Adams says, "When the doctor ran around in a horse and buggy, he was everything."

"Now the allegiance, faith, respect or what have you is spread out among a group. There are great number of ancillary services for the people, both medical and paramedical. There's more team work," he concludes. SOme of that team work takes over the house calls Adams formerly made, although he says he continues to make a few, which, with a rare exception are necessary.

Governmental regulation of medicine? "Don't get me started on that," pleads Dr. Adams.

"I think every physician wants to save both the patient and the state money, overall cost, but bureaucracy is notoriously inefficient," Dr. Adams says.

So what does a man say about a lifetime of working with sickness and health?

Dr. Adams states, "When a patient can say he feels better or is doing something he couldn't do before, well, that's rewarding, it surpasses anything."

"Of course that is negated in part by those other cases in which we didn't have what may be called good fortune," he explains, adding the observation, "the old man upstairs still is running things. He just helps us help ourselves."

***

From the Jackson Citizen Patriot (Tuesday, 06 July 1976):

$60,000 IN KITTY

Farming town seeking doctor

by Piet Bennett, Associated Press Writer

MARCELLUS, Mich. (AP) --

Obituary from the Marcellus News:

Dr. Uriah M. Adams, age 82, of 214 South Jones Street, Marcellus died Sunday morning, April 2, 1989 in Reed City Hospital, Reed City following one months illness. He was born March 19, 1907 in Porter Township, Van Buren County, the son of Chester H. and Roxanna (Bent) Adams. He was a 1923 graduate of Marcellus High School and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1930. He opened his office in Marcellus in 1931 and retired in August 1986. Dr. Adams was a member of the American Medical Association, the Michigan State Medical Society, a life member and charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 1980 he received a 50 year Family Physician award from the American Academy of Family Physicians. On several occasions he had been Chief of Staff at Lee Memorial Hospital, Dowagiac. He was a member of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, served 12 years on the Marcellus Community Schools Board and was active in the Boy Scouts of America. On September 21, 1943, he married Clarice A. Nemmers who preceded him in death August 16, 1987. Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Robert (Margaret) Wetherell of Baldwin and Mrs. Michael (Mary) West of Paso Robles, California; three sons, George of South Bend, Indiana, John of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and James of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; 11 grandchildren; one sister, Mrs. Francis (Dorothy) Morse of Kalamazoo. He was preceded in death by one brother, Leslie Adams. A funeral mass was held at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 5 in St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church with Father Bernard Horst officiating. Interment was in Marcellus Cemetery and memorials were directed to St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church or the Marcellus Ambulance services. Arrangements were handled by the Romig Funeral Home.

+++

Celebrant: Fr. Bernard Horst, Pastor

Pallbearers

James U. Adams, grandson

Daniel Adams, nephew

Rolland Morse, nephew

Eugene Puetz, brother-in-law

Jerry Townsend, family friend

Robert Mater, family friend

Photo of Dr. U.M. Adams and family (James Uriah, grandson; John Stephen, grandson; Doc Adams, Charlotte Nemmers Angelo, sister of Clarice; James Ross, son; Jessica Lynne, granddaughter; Florine Nemmers Cornett, sister of Clarice; James Cornett) Taken in front of Doc Adams' home in Marcellus, Cass, MI. August 1987 at the time of Clarice Adams' funeral.