College of Liberal Arts

Richard N. Adams, 1924–2018

Wed, Sep 12, 2018
Richard N. Adams
Richard N. Adams

Richard N. Adams, anthropologist, scholar, and university professor, passed away in his sleep on September 11, 2018. He was 94.

Adams was a professor of anthropology and, from 1986 to 1990, served as director of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS, now LLILAS) at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his BA from the University of Michigan in 1947, his MA (1949) and PhD (1951) from Yale. He was a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1973. Adams was Professor Emeritus in the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin. 

Virginia Garrard, historian and director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at Texas described Adams as “a great friend and tireless observer of Guatemala.” His work Crucifixion by Power: Essays on Guatemalan National Social Structure, 1944–1966 (UT Press, 1968) “remains one of the most influential scholarly books on Guatemala written in English,” notes Garrard. Adams’s archive is housed at the Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin. 

After his retirement from the University of Texas in 1990, Adams and his wife, Betty Hannstein Adams, lived mainly in Guatemala, where they served as friends and mentors to generations of scholars. Adams is predeceased by the couple’s eldest daughter, Tani Marilena Adams, who died in 2017. He is survived by his wife, Betty, and their children Walter and Gina. No funeral services are planned.

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