Updated at 9:39 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2019, with more information.
Curtis Adams, recognized as the longest-serving commissioner in Hamilton County history and former chairman of that panel, died Tuesday. He was 86.
"Curtis was a true southern gentleman," said Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander, who served on the commission with Adams for all 12 years of his own tenure. "He always wanted to do what was best for the county, and those who were close to him knew he was also a very spiritual person."
Adams, also a former East Ridge city manager, was a longtime circulation director and advertising director for the Chattanooga News-Free Press.
"Curtis Adams was a dedicated public servant who loved working for the betterment of his district and the county," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said in a statement.
"We still laugh in the office about some of his antics, including the day Curtis brought a wheelbarrow into the commission room to show his support for a wheel tax. Curtis was a character who will be remembered for his commitment to the people of District 8, his leadership and his enduring friendships from both his newspaper career and his distinguished public service."
"I have known Curtis Adams personally for many years," East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams said. "He was a good friend and extraordinary public servant who loved the City of East Ridge. His service and accomplishments at the county and city level will long be remembered, not to mention he was always the sharpest-dressed man at any function."
Adams was first elected to the Hamilton County Commission in August 1988 as a Democrat to fill a vacancy after the resignation of Charles Gass. Adams was re-elected the following year and served on the commission until 2010, including a stint as chairman. He flipped to the Republican party in February before the 2005 vote.
County Commissioner Tim Boyd, who replaced Adams on the Commission in 2010, said Adams was a "Godly man who loved his wife, Dot. Having served 22 years on the commission is a testament to the confidence the people of East Ridge and District 8 had in his leadership and values."
Adams spent 41 years working for Roy McDonald, the founder of the News-Free Press, beginning his time on the loading dock in 1951 as a "dock boy" and working his way up. He called those years "the best of my life."
He also served for a time as circulation and advertising director for the Chattanooga Times, and in later years worked a brief stint as city manager in Crossville, Tennessee.
"Curtis was a passionate man who loved Hamilton County and wanted to see it grow," said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who talked with Adams two weeks ago. "I felt both his ire and his praise. He always reminded me of [actor] George Hamilton, dressed to the nines and sporting a good tan."
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., release this statement late Tuesday night: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of a fine gentleman, a dear friend, and a great public servant, Curtis Adams. For over two decades, our community was strengthened by his leadership, enthusiasm, and dedication to the residents of Hamilton County. His love for East Tennesseans radiated in everything he did and will forever be his lasting legacy. He will be sorely missed."
Arrangements are being handled through Heritage Funeral Home on Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.