A local doctor has left a legacy of excellence and commitment.
Curtis Adams, an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) at the Yankton Medical Clinic (YMC) for the last 40 years, died suddenly Sunday from complications arising from a recent surgery.
Funeral services are set for 10:30 a.m. today (Saturday) at Yankton’s Wintz & Ray Funeral Home with Rev. Jacqueline Hickox-Morgan officiating. The service will also be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/WintzRay as well as on Adams’ obituary page at www.wintzrayfuneralhome.com.
Adams was still practicing at YMC until the day he passed. During his tenure, he cared for countless patients and delivered thousands of babies.
A Minnesota native, Adams attended Augustana University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry. In 1974, he married Brenda Givens, a nurse in Hennepin County. They would raise three sons: Brent and Jonathon, who both became doctors, and Craig who became an attorney.
Adams graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1977 and moved to Yankton where he completed his residency under Dr. Brooks Ranney, before going into practice at YMC.
Six months of Adams’ residency were spent at Indian Health Services in Anchorage, Alaska. He took his wife and 1-year-old son, Brent, who would one day also practice medicine at YMC.
“He always talked about experiences there. He would strap me to his back to go salmon fishing,” Brent Adams told the Press & Dakotan. “My mom was pregnant with my brother Jonathon at the time, so I think he always kind of cherished that experience.”
Also, Adams had autonomy and gained valuable hands-on experience that he might not have had in a larger setting, Brent said.
Brent also recalled tales of a moose that roamed the hospital grounds in Anchorage.
“It was kind of an ornery moose, hanging around the hospital,” he said. “You had to look before you went in because, if you didn’t, the moose might nab you and you’d get in a tangle with the moose.”
Adams was a dedicated father, teaching each of his sons to strive for excellence in whatever they chose to do.
“We would be at open gym shooting baskets and he’d say, ‘Well, if you make this many free throws, you’ll get a new pair of basketball shoes,’” Jonathon Adams told the Press & Dakotan. “It would always be more than you could probably throw. It was hard work. I don’t think I ever won those bets.”
The lesson was to learn to set your goals high, and he always gave you the sense that you could do it, Jonathon said.
Adams was a self-starter when it came to home improvement, Jonathon said, although in the end, often wound up calling on the professionals.
One particular time he recalled was in the dead of winter when the satellite dish kept going in and out while the family was trying to watch television. His father decided it was necessary to get out an extension ladder and inspect the dish.
“The ladder is sitting on ice. I get up there and the satellite dish is encased in a block of ice,” Jonathon said. “So I come down, we try to take the ladder down and it slips and goes right through the living room window.”
In addition to enjoying home improvement, Adams liked cars, and when he bought one, would take the family on a “Griswold-style” vacation in the new vehicle, to Minnesota or Disney World and, once, to Washington, D.C., Jonathon said.
“He was always looking at a car,” Craig Adams told the Press & Dakotan. “He had a Corvette when he was younger, and was thinking about getting another one for the longest time, but he would never spend the money on himself.”
Though Adams was always busy with work, he was also there for his sons when needed.
“It was God, his family and then his patients,” Craig said. “That all came before him.”
Adams was often called away from family events to care for a patient or deliver a child.
“We all understood his dedication to his job,” Craig said. “Growing up, that was completely normal to me.”
Adams lost Brenda in 2003 to breast cancer, but continued to take family trips to go golfing with his sons.
“I was home when my mom was sick,” Craig said. “He was able to focus on his patients, and then focus on my mom. When she died, he was there for all of us.”
In 2005, Adams married Madonna Kilbride.
“From our first date, we knew we were going to get married,” Madonna Adams said. “The whole 17 years was a fairy tale. He gave me the best 17 years of my life.”
When the end came, it came quickly and surprised his wife and children. Adams was set to be transported to Sioux Falls, but did not make it.
“I was holding his hands and he looked at me and he said, ‘I am so sorry,’” Madonna said. “I said, ‘Don’t you leave me,’ and he just looked at me and said, ‘I am so glad that you’re here.’”
Adams is survived by his wife, three sons, three step-children and 10 grandchildren.