Burton Elias Ezra Adams
MAJ in 23rd Headquarters Co
Born 1914 in SD, Died 2012
Other residence(s): San Leandro, CA; Oakland, CA; Carmel, CA; Alameda, CA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: medical resident (or doctor?)
College education before the war: UC Berkeley; Stanford Medical School
Burton Adams was born on November 9, 1914 in Bristol, SD, the oldest of four children. His father, Burton Abel Adams, was a doctor who had been born in Canada; Burton Jr.'s middle names were a legacy from his grandfather, Ezra Elihu Adams.
The family relocated to California sometime after Burton Sr. accepted the position of Assistant Superintendent at Fairmount Hospital in San Leandro, CA in 1929. (In 1939 he would move to San Diego when he was selected as Superintendent of San Diego County Hospital.) Burton Jr. studied premed at UC Berkeley and was also active in the UC Reserves. In 1936, the year he graduated from Berkeley as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, he was also named outstanding student colonel.
Burton went on to study medicine at Stanford for the next four years. After graduation, he worked as a resident at Highland Hospital in Oakland CA under the direction of the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Sumner Everingham, and fell in love with Dr. Everingham's daughter, Anne.
He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, when he was still at Highland Hospital, and then served as a resident at Bellevue Hospital in New York until January 1, 1942. After returning to California, he married Anne Everingham on February 22, 1942. Anne, a California native, had graduated from Juillard with honors in 1941, and had taken a position as a harpist with the San Francisco Symphony fresh out of school. (Anne's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother had all been concert pianists!)
Burton joined the Army Medical Corps early in 1942 and was stationed in Monterey County; the young couple took up residence in Carmel.
At some point Burton was assigned to the 23rd Headquarters Company of the Ghost Army, and saw service in Europe with the unit. His brother, Robert, also a doctor, joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific—he was attached to the medical corps that landed with the marines at Guadalcanal.
After Burton's discharge from the Army at Pine Camp in late 1945, where he'd earned the rank of MAJ, he took up his surgical practice in California.
Burton and Anne would go on to have four daughters: Carolyn, Patricia, Nancy, and Valerie. In addition to his surgical practice, Burton served as Chief of Staff at Eden Hospital in the 1950s and worked as a pediatric surgeon at the Children's Hospital of the East Bay. In the 1960s he served a term as chief of medical staff there.
At the 1954 convention of the California Medical Association, Burton spoke about pioneering surgical procedures that were saving the lives of children born with congenital hernias.
Meanwhile, Anne became the principal harpist of the San Francisco Symphony in 1951 and principal harpist for the San Francisco Opera in 1952. She was also a member of the faculty at Mills College (in addition to teaching harp privately). She played on the radio and later on television with Carmen Dragon, and performed with the Little Symphony Orchestra of San Francisco on weekly television concerts. She also performed, recorded, and toured as a soloist and with chamber groups.
Burton was a huge supporter of his wife's career. He was a life member of the American Harp Society and a founding member of the American Harp Society Foundation. He helped Anne to mentor and support many harp students and opened his home to host many harpists of his generation whenever they were in town. He also commissioned works for harp by several composers. In 1990, he established the Anne Adams Awards, a scholarship program in honor of his wife; he funded this program every year until 2003, and the Anne Adams Awards continue today. In 2000 he was included in Harp Column's list of the most influential people in the harp world.
Burton Adams died on November 30, 2012, at the age of 98. Anne outlived him by a year, dying on December 9, 2013.
Their family demonstrated an interesting combination of medical and musical skills. Daughter Carolyn became a pianist and daughter Patricia became the principal harpist with the Tucson Symphony (and married a doctor who was also a bass player with the Symphony). Daughter Nancy was a saxophonist and became a doctor, and daughter Valerie became a nurse and a professor of nursing.
1914 South Dakota birth index
1936 Berkeley yearbook (includes photo)
1936 article in the Oakland Tribune (CA) about his being named outstanding student colonel of the year in UC Reserves at U Cal Berkeley
1939 article in the Daily Palo Alto Times (CA) about his winning a scholarship for graduate study at Stanford
1939 article in the San Diego Union and Daily Bee (CA) about his father's work (and discusses the family)
1940 draft card
1942 article in the San Francisco Examiner (CA) about his engagement
1942 article in the San Francisco Examiner (CA) about his marriage
1942 article in the Oakland Tribune (CA) about his post-marriage residence/Army work (includes photo)
1942 article in The Californian about him taking the state medical exams
1944 article in the San Diego Union and Daily Bee (CA) about his brother's military service (mentions that Burton is overseas)
1954 article in the Daily News (Los Angeles CA) about Burton speaking at the California Medical Association convention
1957 article in the San Francisco Examiner (CA) about Burton, Anne, and their family (includes family photo)
1959 article in the Peninsula Times Tribune (CA) about his wife's music career (mentions he is surgeon)
1965 article in the Oakland Tribune (CA) about his being named chief of medical staff at Children's Hospital (includes photo)
1981 article in the San Francisco Examiner (CA) about his wife's music career (and mentions him)
2012 obituary (includes photo of him with Anne and her harp)
2012 Social Security death index
2013 obituary for his wife (contains info about Burton)