The late state Sen. Thurman Adams Jr. was a tireless champion of the state's agriculture industry, particularly the University of Delaware's research and education farm in Georgetown, according to those who knew him.
The university acknowledged that support Monday when they formally renamed the 344-acre "substation," as he referred to it, as the Thurman Adams Jr. Research Farm.
More than 100 people attended the dedication ceremony at the farm's Carvel Research and Education Center on County Seat Highway, including Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, U.S. Congressman John Carney, state Attorney General Beau Biden, members of the General Assembly, university officials and the Adams family.
"If he were here with us today, I think he would say this is one of the greatest honors he's ever received," Adams' daughter Lyn Kokjohn said. "Agriculture, the University of Delaware and Sussex County were such important aspects of who he was so to have all three represented here in this one site, he would have been very touched."
Research center director Mark Isaacs said Adams, a Democrat from Bridgeville, was instrumental in securing the state funding that allowed the facility to grow over the years, perhaps most notably with the completion of the 26,000-square-foot Carvel Center in 2006.
"One of the most important things Thurman would say to me each year is, 'Are we getting it done," Isaacs said. "One of the last times I spoke with him, he pulled me aside and said, 'Make sure we continue getting it done.' "
Following the dedication ceremony and the unveiling of a sign denoting the farm's new name, Adams' friends and colleagues in the legislature took turns recalling some of their favorite memories during a lunch featuring his favorite food: fried chicken.
Adams earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from the University of Delaware in 1950 and was member of the school's inaugural lacrosse team. He later served as president of his family's farming and grain brokerage business, T.G. Adams and Sons in Bridgeville.
First elected to the state Senate in 1972, Adams was the longest serving state senator in Delaware history when he died from pancreatic cancer in June 2009. He served as state senate majority leader from 1999 to 2002 and the president pro tempore from 2003 until his death at the age of 80.
He was succeeded in the state senate by Georgetown Republican Joe Booth.