Founder Of Utah Shakespeare Festival Dies After Battling Cancer

Feb 6, 2020, 10:38 AM | Updated: 1:21 pm

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Fred Adams, the founder of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, died in Cedar City after a long fight with cancer. He was 89.

Officials with the Festival announced his passing Thursday morning.

“It is with deep sadness that the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University share the news that Fred C. Adams, founder of the Festival, passed away early today in Cedar City, Utah. The state’s most prominent arts leader, Adams, made a deep and lasting impact on everyone he met, and it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our leader and friend. Words can’t express our sorrow or grief at this time.”

Several people across the state have shared their thoughts on his passing including Gov. Gary Herbert.

“Fred was a genius. He truly was the visionary behind the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is beloved by both our state and our nation,” said Herbert. “Fred was one of a kind, and he will be sorely missed. We join with all Utahns in expressing condolences to his family.”

Utah Sen. Evan J. Vickers, also had kind words to say about the Festival founder.

“Fred Adams is a true hero, not only to me personally, but to the state of Utah as a whole,” said Vickers. “He has done the work of ten men, and managed to accomplish it in just one lifetime. We are all indebted to him for the amazing things he has done for us. He will truly be missed, but his memory and legacy will last forever.”

Adams started the Utah Shakespeare Festival with his late wife Barbara Gaddie Adams in 1961, and helped it grow into the world-renowned event it is today.

“The Festival is considered one of the most prestigious theatres in the United States and has received the Tony Away for Outstanding Regional Theatre, an Emmy Award, and the Utah Best of State Award, among other accolades.”

Adams was a teacher, actor, director, and producer. He taught theatre at Southern Utah University from 1959 to 1997 where he became a mentor to many aspiring thespians.

SUU President, Scott L. Wyatt, spoke highly of Adams and his work.

“Fred is the most creative, passionate, and tireless person I have ever known,” said Wyatt. “In the Utah arts world, he was without equal. No one has elevated the reputation of Southern Utah University and Cedar City more than him. Without doubt, he will remain in the hearts of thousands who knew him and countless others who were blessed by the art he created.”

Adams stepped down from his leadership role of the Festival in 2005, but continued working there–directing, acting, fundraising, and showing up to his office nearly every day.

He is survived by his brother, James; four children, Dorcas (Gene) Woodward, Glynis (Alan) Neves, Addison (Dana) Adams, and Josh (Jamie) Adams; 14 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and many cousins and friends.

The family has not yet announced funeral plans, but they said a celebration of his life will take place sometime in the near future.

Adams wishes were that donations be made to the Utah Shakespeare Festival in his honor.

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Founder Of Utah Shakespeare Festival Dies After Battling Cancer