Larry Michael Adams

Larry M. Adams passed away on April 1, 2023, at his home in California City, California with his wife and son by his side.  He was 80 years old.  He had been battling diabetes and IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) for the past several years. 

Larry was born on October 21, 1942, in Bath Springs, Tennessee, to Jessie Willard and Leda Mable Adams of Bath Springs, Tennessee, both of whom preceded him in death.

He lived his early years in Bath Springs, however in 1949 at the age of seven, he moved with his family to China Lake, California, where his parents were employed at the Naval Ordinance Test Station.  He attended elementary school in China Lake, middle school at Murray Middle School, and high school at Sherman E. Burroughs High School, graduating in June 1960.  While in high school he was active in sports – football, basketball, baseball and track.  He enjoyed all sports, but his love of basketball and baseball was most evident.

Following graduation from high school he continued his education at Bakersfield College, in Bakersfield, California and then Fresno State University, obtaining both his Bachelor of Arts Degree and Master of Arts Degree.  He continued his graduate work and received his doctorate at Santa Barbara University in 1979.  His love of academia did not end there as he was a lifelong learner and continued graduate studies receiving many more credentials in the field of education.

Larry met his wife, Oleta Dial, his freshman year at Burroughs High School.  Although they were friends and had many classes together, they didn’t begin dating until after they graduated and began their first year of college at Bakersfield.  After receiving their Associate of Arts Degree from Bakersfield, they married on August 25, 1962.  Then welcomed their three children; daughter Shaun and sons, Scott and Mark.

In 1963, he began his teaching career with the Tulare City Schools in Tulare, California, teaching fifth grade. Over the next few years he taught seventh and eighth grades as well.  From Tulare, they moved to Jamestown, California, where Larry served as Assistant Principal and was responsible for implementing a team-teaching pod for Junior High Students.  Following a short time there, he took a position at Helm Elementary School, located in the small rural farming community of Helm, in Fresno County.  His title included almost everything -- Teacher, Principal and Superintendent.  It was a small K-8 school, with only four teachers, so for several years their three children found that their teachers were also their parents.  It was a wonderful and unique situation. The fourteen years they were there seemed to pass very quickly. 

With all three children now in college, they moved to another small rural farming community, also in Fresno County, where he served as Vice Principal/Assistant Superintendent of Westside Elementary School in Five Points, California.  During this time he taught Psychology Classes for the University of San Francisco as an Adjunct Professor.  After three years at Westside Elementary School they moved to California City, California, where he accepted the position of Principal of Robert P. Ulrich Elementary School with the Mojave Unified School District.  Oleta accepted a position teaching third grade at Mojave Elementary School.  While with the M.U.S.D. he oversaw the building of the California City Middle School, where he also served as principal for several years.  After retirement he served Hacienda Middle School and California City High School as Interim Principal for a time.  He also taught Psychology for Cerro Coso Community College at Edwards Air Force Base in the evenings.

Over the years Larry had been visible and proactive in many community activities and organizations.  While living in Helm, he was involved in organizing and getting Little League; Babe Ruth Baseball; and Central Valley Youth Football implemented in that community.  He also served as coach for all three.  This was especially rewarding, because he coached his two sons in these sports as well.  He served as President and Board Member for Tranquillity High School; President of the Board of Directors of the San Joaquin Health Center; Board Member of Fresno Food Banks, Inc.; Crisis Counselor and Board Member for “Help in Emotional Trouble”; and Vice President of Congressman Tony Coelho’s Youth Awards.

In 1996, Larry was elected as a “Write In” Candidate for Mayor of California City.  As the mayor he served for six terms and was successful in helping to improve the financial and general welfare of the city, including the building of the California City Correctional Facility, Honda Proving Center of California, and helping to implement additional small businesses and fast food franchises, creating many new jobs for the community.

Although his involvement in community activities had lessened in the last few years, he still served as a Board Member for the M.U.S.D. and kept up with the happenings of California City’s East Kern Historical Museum Society and his church.

Larry is survived by his wife of 60 years, Oleta (Dial) Adams; daughter, Shaun Adams of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; son, Scott Adams of California City, CA; son, Mark Adams of Fresno, CA; sister, Patty Graham of Ridgecrest, CA; brother Billy (Susan) Ray of Bakersfield, CA; granddaughter, Ryann Burke of Oceanside, CA; grandson, Justin Burke of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; granddaughter, AnnaBelle Adams and grandson, Zavier Adams, both of Fresno, CA.  As well as many nephews, nieces; great-nephews and nieces; and several great-great nephews and nieces.  He was blessed with a large and loving family and was so proud of each and every one of them!  He was constantly showing pictures and sharing their recent accomplishments with friends and colleagues.

Larry was preceded in death by his father, Jessie Willard Adams; stepfather, Ezra A. Ray; his mother, Mable A Ray; brother, Jammie W. Adams; brother, Joel D. Adams; nephew, Michael Graham; and great-nephew, Charles Knight.

He will be remembered fondly for his loyalty to his family and friends; acts of kindness; dedication as a visible and proactive community member; his humor and wit and for the countless number of students whose lives he touched and, perhaps, made a difference in the paths they chose to follow.

Larry loved the Lord.  His faith was strong and he hoped the life he led reflected that.  He enjoyed worshiping at the First Baptist Church of California City since 1988.  At 1:35 pm on Saturday, April 1, 2023 he joined a new congregation at Number 1, Jericho Road, Heaven.       


His Celebration of Life will be held on:  April 15, 2023, at 1pm, at the California City Middle School, 9736 Redwood Boulevard, California City, CA 93505

If interested, a youtube live stream link will be available to view his Celebration of Life located on the Mojave Unified School District’s website home page.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to:   “The Dr. Larry M. Adams Memorial Senior Graduates Scholarship” – donations deposited at the Alta One Credit Union in California City, California.

Or to the:    (Larry was passionate about having our Veteran’s needs taken care of.)