Cover photo for Bert N. Adams's Obituary
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Bert N. Adams

January 27, 1932 — January 6, 2024

Bert N. Adams

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Bert Newton Adams, age 91, of Madison, Wisconsin died on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at Agrace Hospice Residence in Fitchburg after 3 days there, following a year-long struggle with health issues. Bert was born in Philadelphia, PA to William Walter and Beulah Adams in 1932, and lived in Wayne, PA until 1944 when his family moved to Kansas City, KS.


Bert earned a B.A. in Music from William Jewell College, a Th.M. from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After a post-doctoral fellowship at UNC, Dr. Adams joined the Sociology faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965. For nearly 50 years he taught courses on Social Theory and large lecture classes on Marriage and the Family, reaching some 20,000 UW students.  From 1970-72 Bert served as a senior lecturer and researcher at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. His book, “An American Family in Amin’s Uganda,” chronicles the experiences he and his family had.


Bert published 20 academic books, including textbooks on “Family” and “Social Theory,” and many peer-reviewed journal articles. He received numerous research grants and professional awards and was a Fellow and President of the National Council on Family Relations. Dr. Adams conducted sociological research in Kenya, Uganda, India, Canada, and Great Britain, and gave academic lectures in Sweden, Estonia, Bangladesh, and Korea.


Bert was widely known for his amazing baritone voice. His performing career spanned 50+ years, including more than 30 lead roles with Madison Opera, singing at his beloved church (First Baptist, Madison) and for senior living communities including Oakwood Village, University Woods, where he resided. 


Bert found enjoyment in a fantasy baseball team, for which he was an original developer in the 1970s. He also co-created the board game, “Run for President,” first produced in 2007. His marriage was a deeply bonded partnership, which has impacted hundreds of lives.


Preceded in death by his parents and his older brother, William Walter Adams III (Will), Dr. Adams is survived by his loving wife of nearly 70 years, Diane; sons John (Lori) Adams and Joel Adams; and grandchildren Rebekah (Jeffrey) Juillerat and Andrew (Jami-Lee) Adams. 


A service celebrating Bert’s remarkable life will be held at Oakwood Village, University Woods on February 24, 2024, at 1 p.m. in Resurrection Chapel, followed by a reception. The service will be livestreamed.  In lieu of flowers, contributions in Bert’s name may be sent to a charity of your choice or First Baptist Church/Madison, Madison Opera, University of Wisconsin Foundation (undergraduate scholarships), or the Oakwood Village Foundation (Life Enrichment).  Bert had “a singing heart” and spoke out for peace and justice all his life.


Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3610 Speedway Road

Madison, WI 53705




Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, February 24, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Oakwood Village University Woods

6205 Mineral Point Rd, Madison, WI 53705

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