Dr. William B. Adams, 84, the minister of Temple Hill Baptist Church in Bethesda for the past 35 years and a member of the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission in the mid-1960s, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 28 at his home in Bethesda.
Before joining Temple Hill, Dr. Adams served as minister of the Rockville Baptist Church from about 1945, when he moved here, until 1952.
A native of New York state, he was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He received a doctorate in sacred theology from the Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a chaplain with the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War II.
Dr. Adams was appointed to a three-year term on the Human Relations Commission in 1965. The appointment created a stir when it was learned that he had given the invocation at a 1964 Maryland rally for Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, who was running for the Democratic Party nomination for president.
At a commission meeting on Jan. 30, 1967, called to recommend a fair-housing law for the county, Dr. Adams said open occupancy legislation would bring blacks into the county "like the hordes of Genghis Khan" and that the proposed law was "an insult to every veteran who sleeps in Arlington Cemetery."
Following these remarks, spiced with racial jokes, both the commission and the Montgomery County Council voted for his expulsion from the commission. The courts ruled that the council had not shown just cause for Dr. Adams' expulsion and had violated his right of free speech by dismissing him for his remarks. He was reinstated on the commission, where he served until his term expired in 1968.
Dr. Adams was a member of the Kiwanis, the Civitan Club, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Military Order of the World Wars. He also had served as a department commander in the American Legion.
Survivors include his wife, Jeannette, of Bethesda; one son, William B., of Annandale; one daughter, Lucille Helgeson of Huntsville, Ala.; one sister, Nancy McLaughlin of Deposit, N.Y., and four grandchildren.