When Carroll Adams arrived at the 2015 YWCA luncheon, he had no idea that he’d be taking home this year’s Leader of Distinction award.
“Carroll and his wife, Helen, were at my table, and it was so much fun watching his face as he realized that we were talking about him,” said Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, YWCA Executive Director. “It’s a good thing he didn’t know in advance, because he is so modest he might have found an excuse to be somewhere else. He’s the kind of man who would never seek recognition for doing what he believes is right and necessary and good.”
The award was presented by Peggy Jo Sanderson, the YWCA Executive Director who worked with Carroll Adams and his golfing friends when they got the idea for Golfers Against Domestic Violence and started a fundraising tournament in 1990 that ran until 2014. By then Carroll had already been a YWCA volunteer for as many as 30 years, so it wasn’t a surprise when he jumped in to lead the golf effort.
While Carroll has done so much for the YWCA that they have nicknamed him the YWCA godfather, this is by no means the only way he works on behalf of families in our valley. As the owner of Carroll Adams Tractor Co., which opened here in the mid-1950s, he spent more than three decades sharing his expertise to help Wa-Hi and Mac-Hi chapters of Future Farmers of America learn about agriculture and maintaining farm equipment.
He and his Cessna—which he piloted well into his 90s—were enlisted by the Civil Air Patrol to help with search and rescue operations. And he has been a volunteer for the Fort Walla Walla Museum, helping maintain their collection of historical farm equipment and clearing land and moving rocks before the current museum building was in place.
But, as Carroll once shared at an annual meeting, when the YWCA was raising funds to build a domestic violence shelter in 1984, he put some of his volunteer work aside for a while: “I decided to drop other activities,” he said, “and do what I could to help the YWCA raise money to get the shelter open. To me there is no one who is more important than a woman whose family is falling apart.” He believed it was critical to make this service available in Walla Walla. “Prior to the YWCA’s shelter opening,” Carroll said, “the women had nowhere else to go, except maybe to go back and get another beating. It’s sad to say that when we first began work on the project we had no idea business would be so good.”
And once the shelter began operation—because business was indeed “good”—the YWCA needed new ways to fund the shelter’s ongoing needs. Carroll and his golfers were a huge part of keeping the domestic violence program going and raising awareness about the problem of violence and assault that women face in Walla Walla and across the country. In fact, between 1990 and 2014, the Annual YWCA Charity Golf Classic raised nearly $600,000 to further work against violence.
“I think it’s important that men and women work together to solve the problems created by domestic violence,” said Carroll, and the YWCA could not agree more.
Some material here was gathered by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin for a 2010 article about Adams’ work for the YWCA golf tournament.