Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

Currently: 48° — Complete forecast

CAPERS ADAM: 1932-2007

While preparing to host a fundraising gala to build a Southern Nevada children's shelter in 1966, the Rev. Jack Adam fretted that charging $25 per seat might scare off potential patrons.

After all, the only entertainers he had signed up for that mid-November show at the Riviera Hotel were Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Shecky Greene, Jack Benny, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Frank Fontaine and Red Buttons.

After the show to a packed house, the ever frugal Benny half-jokingly chided the man everyone knew as "Father Jack" for not charging $100 a ticket.

Nevertheless, the $70,000 raised during that event helped fulfill Adam's dream to build St. Jude's Ranch for Children in Boulder City, which has improved the lives of hundreds of abused, abandoned and neglected kids.

Jack Capers "Father Jack" Adam died Sunday at St. Rose de Lima Hospitals - Sienna Campus. He was 74.

The cause, his family said, was a lung ailment following a lengthy illness.

Services for Adam, who died three days before his 75th birthday and was an off-again, on-again resident of Southern Nevada since 1963, will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Boulder City, where he has most recently lived. A vigil will begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday at St. Andrews.

Adam was long known by his nickname even after he left the priesthood and the Episcopal church in the 1970s to protest the church's decision to start ordaining women as priests. He became a devout Catholic.

"We will forever be thankful to Father Jack for his vision, foresight and courage to build St. Jude's Ranch for Children," St. Jude's Chief Executive Christine Spadafor said. "He gave the children new hope and a second chance at life."

In the mid-1960s, Adam approached then-Sun Publisher Hank Greenspun for help in getting St. Jude's off the ground.

"Whoever attempts in some fashion to salvage young lives, the effort should be made by all to see that such work should not be in vain," Greenspun wrote in 1966. "Fortunately for Southern Nevada, there is a man who has a dream."

Boulder City sold Adam and his supporters 40 acres for $1 to use as the site for St. Jude's. The dollar for that land purchase was symbolically donated by Adam's great-aunt, then-95-year-old Catholic nun Sister Mary of the Cross, who shared Adam's dream.

Born Oct. 10, 1932, in Pass Christian, Miss., Adam was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child and sent to Phoenix . There, he attended Southern Arizona School for Boys and then studied for the priesthood.

After his 1963 ordination as an Episcopal minister, he was sent to Las Vegas to oversee construction of St. Matthew's Episcopalian Church on Nellis Boulevard and became its first pastor. Shortly after he left for Utah to seek support to build a children's home in Utah.

Early in 1966 Adam returned to Southern Nevada after Boulder City and other cities showed interest in such a home for Southern Nevada. Nearly 1,000 children have since passed through the facility's doors. Currently there are about 60 children at St. Jude's in Boulder City. Two other chapters in Texas have since opened and are home to 60 more kids.

Ill health once again forced Adam to move to an even a drier climate than Las Vegas' - this time to Mesa, Ariz. - where Adam had a long career as a jeweler and jewelry shop owner. His family said Adam spent the past 40 years making cash contributions to St. Jude's and to youth causes in Mexico and Nicaragua. But he shied from the spotlight, making his gifts anonymously.

Adam is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ranelle Adam, and a daughter, Nancy Porter, both of Boulder City; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by two sons, a daughter and two brothers.

Interment will be in the Boulder City Cemetery. Palm Mortuary-Henderson is handling the arrangements.