Donald Gilbert Adams was born on December 18, 1938, in Jasper, Texas, to Judge T. Gilbert Adams and Dess Hart Adams. He attended Jasper Public Schools, Schreiner Institute, and Baylor University. After graduating summa cum laude from Baylor University School of Law, he practiced law in Lufkin before returning to Jasper to form a partnership with his father, Judge Adams.
Adams was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968 and 1970 where he was the only freshman House member appointed to a study of the Texas Penal Code. During his second term in the House, he served a chairman of the House Committee on Local and Consent Calendars. In 1972, Don Adams was elected to the State Senate and reelected without opposition in 1974. In 1975, he was appointed chairman of the Senate Administration Committee and in January, 1977, Lt. Governor Hobby selected Don Adams to be Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
For nine years Don Adams was an active participant in the legislative process as an author and sponsor of major legislation of state-wide impact and numerous local bills designed to serve his district. During his second session in the Senate, Adams played a key role in the formulation and passage of the Texas Public Utility Act and major state legislation. A long legislative struggle was culminated in the 65th Session with the passage of the first comprehensive Firemen's Pension Act which was needed to guarantee the sound development of pension funds of thousands of firefighters. As an active member of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, Adams was intimately involved in legislative work on the Texas Family Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.
Other major legislative efforts included:
- A major overhaul of the Texas Probate Code, much of which is still in place, in 1971;
- The Medical Malpractice Act which addressed the Medical Malpractice Insurance crises at the time, much of which is still the law, in 1975; and
- The first Presidential Primary Bill for Texas in 1977. It is not now the law.
In 1974, as a member of the Senate, Don Adams served as an elected delegate to the first Texas Constitutional Convention since 1875. As Chairman of the Senate Administration Committee, he was charged with directing preparations of the rules of procedure for the first Senate impeachment trial of a state district judge in over forty years. He also was Chief Senate Prosecutor in the legislative procedure to address the removal of a sitting Texas Supreme Court Justice ( Don Yarborough).
In 1978, he resigned as a member of the Texas Senate to become Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor of Texas. Four days after assuming that position, Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Don Adams as Acting Director of the Governor's Office of Migrant Affairs when the Director of that agency was indicted. Adams served as Acting Director of that agency for approximately three months. In May of 1978, in addition to his duties as Chief Legal Counsel, Adams was also given the responsibility of Appointments Secretary to the Governor.
In October of 1978, Adams was appointed as a member of the Texas Industrial Commission. In 1979, he was elected Chairman of that Commission and was appointed to a full six year term in 1983.
Don Adams has been involved in his community and church. He has been active as a member and leader of his local bar association, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce and First United Methodist Church. In 1970, he was honored with a testimonial tribute from the Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association. In 1971, Don Adams was honored by the State Bar of Texas and the Vocational Agriculture Teachers. In 1972, he was named Outstanding Young Man of Jasper and was selected as one of the Five Outstanding Young Men of Texas.
He was married in 1964 to Linda Cullum of Wickett, Texas. They have three children : Donny, Debra and Dinah and one grandson, Thomas.
In 2001 Don Adams was in private practice of litigation, mediation and legislative advocacy.
[Adapted from a 1980 biographical sketch in August, 1992. Updated Fall 2001]