Cover photo for Budd Berwyn Adams's Obituary
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Budd Berwyn Adams

March 16, 1930 — February 20, 2024

Budd Berwyn Adams, b. March 16, 1930, passed away at the age of 93 years, from various medical complications at Lynchburg General Hospital on February 20, 2024.  

Born in Chicago, Budd was the son of the late Clarence W. Adams, a dentist, and Eugenia “Jean” B. Kattelmann.  He was preceded in death by two older sisters, Marguerite Adams Goodman, and Alvina “Dukie” Adams Reis.  He was also preceded in death by two wonderful women: his first wife, Carolyn L. Gerdes Adams, and his second wife, Kathleen Shoults Luth Adams.

He is survived by: two daughters, Denise Marie Adams McDonald (Travis C. McDonald, Jr.), Linda V. Adams Hamlet (Clifford Hamlet), three granddaughters, Margot McDonald Aker (Colin Aker), Madeleine McDonald Fontana (Anthony Fontana), and Emma Hamlet Rodrick (Gene Rodrick), and by three great grandchildren, Carter Aker and twins Blair and William Aker.

He is also survived by five step-daughters and their families:  Janice Luth (Dennis Goff), Kathryn Luth Sparhawk (Tom Sparhawk), Virginia Luth Blanks (Greg Blanks), Sandra Luth Diederich, and Mary Ann Luth Adelstein.

Budd grew up during the Depression in Chicago and was raised by his father, a dentist, and step-mother, Frances Mary Brown.  After starting Parker High School as a lack-luster student whose main interest was photography, Budd started studying with zeal after he heard a friend say he couldn’t get a job because of his low grades.   That motivated Budd to earn straight A’s as a junior and senior and he graduated from high school in 1947 in the top 10% of his class.

With little money, Budd did factory work for a year to save for college.  In 1948, he was thrilled to be accepted to attend the University of Chicago on scholarship but also disheartened by his parents’ divorce and the news that he could not live at home.  Yet he found at the University of Chicago a stimulating academic environment that changed his life forever.  Budd became a life-long learner and avid reader, especially in the realm of American history, politics and biographies.

After earning his B.A. in 1951 from Chicago, he went to the University of Illinois where he completed a B.S. in geology in 1953 and met Carolyn whom he married four months later.  The happy couple moved for Budd to pursue graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and their first daughter, Denise was born in 1955.  He continued his studies, including field work in Minnesota and Denver, and hustled to complete his PhD in geophysics in 1957, just before Linda was born and he started a new job at Jersey Oil Co., Tulsa, OK. 

In 1960, he took a job as a research scientist at Columbia University’s Hudson Laboratory where he worked through 1968.   His work focused on underwater acoustics and included several enjoyable and challenging trips to Bermuda and Argus Island Tower.  He also enjoyed living in Dobbs Ferry and then New City, New York, two charming towns not far from New York City, giving the family opportunities to see museums and theater there.  He also took up snow skiing and regularly took the whole family skiing in Vermont.

In 1968, Budd became branch head of Underwater Acoustics at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, DC.  We later learned his top-secret work involved sonar research assisting the U.S. in the Cold War.  During this time, the family moved to Springfield, VA and both daughters finished high school and went on to college. 

Budd’s last career move in 1986 was to Slidell, LA, just outside New Orleans, and he worked at the Naval Oceanographic and Research Development Activity (NORDA), Stennis Space Center, NRL, in Mississippi, as a program manager.  Budd and Carolyn greatly enjoyed New Orleans jazz, historical sites and cuisine.  His children and grandchildren were regular visitors. After he retired in 1994, Budd delved into genealogy, and he and Carolyn bought an RV and did extensive traveling around the U.S., including trips to Alaska, Presidential libraries, and following the Lewis & Clark expedition trail out west. Budd and Carolyn moved to Lynchburg, VA just before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  After 53 years of marriage, Carolyn sadly passed away in December 2008.

For his next chapter, Budd met a lady in his neighborhood exactly his age who had also lost her spouse to Alzheimer’s, and he married Kathleen Luth in July 2009, so the Luth clan with Kathleen’s five daughters and families joined with the Adams family.

Budd and Kathleen spent seven happy years together, going to local theater and musicals, socializing, traveling, exercising at the YMCA, visiting family, and driving around town in their red Sebring convertible.   She passed away in 2016, and Budd always said he had been privileged to have two wonderful wives.

Budd loved life.  He was grateful for his family and friends, and he found joy and humor in everyday life.  Always curious, he discovered art history in his later years, took a course at CVCC, and developed special admiration for Botticelli’s work and for studying the Great Courses on every area of history and art.  He will be greatly missed.

Budd’s memorial service will be held on Friday, March 8 at 4pm, with a reception following, at Tharp Funeral Home, 220 Breezewood Drive, Lynchburg, VA.  

Memorial gifts may be made to:  the University of Chicago, and First Presbyterian Church, 1215 V.E.S. Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg is assisting the family. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Budd Berwyn Adams, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Starts at 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory-Lynchburg

220 Breezewood Dr
Lynchburg, VA 24502

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