Phillip Reese Adams, M.D., ’76 passed away on Saturday, the 24th of September, 2016 at his home in Houston, Texas, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of generosity, love and dedication to family, friends and patients that touched and influenced the lives of many. Dr. Adams, a native of Chester, Pennsylvania, was born on the 18th of February 1951, and was one of four children. He was raised in the Port Arthur, Texas area. Dr. Adams graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a top scholar and the captain of the football team. His stellar medical career began in 1973 at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (now known as McGovern Medical School at UTHealth). He began his surgical residency at UT in 1976 and was selected for a cardiovascular and thoracic surgical residency at the Texas Heart Institute with Dr. Denton A. Cooley. During the 1980s this team of talented surgeons performed approximately 4,500 open heart cases a year. Dr. Adams’ awards and accomplishments as a cardiovascular/ thoracic surgeon and professor cannot be adequately summarized. During his long career, he was a proud student, colleague and friend of innumerable physicians in Houston, including Dr. Cooley, Dr. Stanley Dudrick and Dr. “Red” Duke. He co-authored numerous research papers, including those on ground-breaking work with Dr. Cooley on cardiac valve replacements. His contributions to medical literature appeared in respected publications such as the Journal of Surgical Research and The Texas Heart Institute Journal. Devoted to improving trauma care, Dr. Adams helped pioneer the Life Flight program and worked tirelessly to save lives in the emergency room and operating room. In 2013, he received the Hermann Hospital Distinguished Physician Award. Until his illness this past year, he remained an active surgeon teaching young doctors as an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
An avid hunter, Dr. Adams pursued that passion on wildlife expeditions around the world including France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain. For decades, and as his work commitment allowed, he spent countless hours working on his beloved deer leases in South Texas during hunting season and off-season as well. He loved the outdoors, whether tracking exotic game in Africa or tending the plants in his yard in Houston.
On a hunting safari in Mozambique in 2008, Dr. Adams married Karen Maston Adams. A bush pilot flew them to a remote camp where they tracked game for several hours every day and were married in a traditional ceremony with wedding bands made of elephant hair. Upon their return to Houston, they had a second ceremony with family and friends before a romantic honeymoon in Paris and Venice. Years later they returned to Venice to celebrate their marriage at the annual gondola races. Both ardent travelers, Dr. and Mrs. Adams visited Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in June of this year. Most mornings, they rose before sunrise to watch the wildlife begin the day. They climbed to the top of Inspiration Point to view the sunset, their last trip, a magical tribute to their abiding love for each other and their shared passions.
More important to him than his impressive professional accolades, Dr. Adams was a loving and nurturing husband, father, brother, and friend. A proud father, Dr. Adams could always be seen at his childrens’ sporting and theatrical events, serving as a coach for his son’s teams or supporting his daughter in her many plays and musicals. Dr. Adams is survived by his loving wife, Karen Maston Adams, his son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Molly Adams, his daughter, Taylor Anne Adams, his stepdaughter, Kelsey Maston Brooks and her fiancé Josh Wright, step daughter Cody Maston Brooks, his siblings and his large circle of friends and colleagues.
In memory of his dedication to serving others, a scholarship fund has been established to honor his legacy of excellence in the medical field. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you send gifts to the Dr. Phillip R. Adams Scholarship at the McGovern Medical School, UT Health, P.O. Box 1321, Houston, Texas 77251.