Donald J. (Adam) Adamchak, 48, died of cancer at his home in Manhattan, Kansas, on March 16, 2000. Adam was born in Bayonne, New Jersey on February 27, 1952. After graduating high school in Jersey City, he attended Ohio University (BGS) before going to Western Kentucky University (MA) and Bowling Green State University (PhD, Sociology, 1978). In the fall of 1978 he joined the sociology faculty at Kansas State University. He remained an active and productive member of the graduate and undergraduate programs in sociology up until a few days before his death.
At KSU, Adam anchored the concentration in social demography, preparing scores of graduate students, many of them international, for careers in research and teaching in social demography. He was exceptionally active in the graduate program through both his formal and his informal mentoring of many students in addition to his teaching. Adam, an active member of sixty-one MA and PhD committees and major professor for 17 masters and 12 doctoral degrees, was ever alert to opportunities that would help students’ careers, and he encouraged and nurtured them into their professions. He always involved students in his research, collaborating with many students and former students. (His last vita listed current or recent departmental graduate students as co-authors of eight 1999 and 2000 publications.) Adam’s students always “hit the ground running” in terms of their research and academic careers after KSU. New graduate students in the program quickly realized that he was an invaluable source of practical, career-related information and he was eager to share this information one-on-one, helping them to navigate through their programs and into their careers. Adam’s concern for, and his commitment to his students was all consuming. During his last days, he was reading theses and preparing students for employment interviews. In recognition, at the spring commencement in 2000 Adam was awarded a Graduate School Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contributions to graduate education at KSU.
Adam’s research concerned the role of population factors in development; fertility transitions; family and family planning; the status of women/gender relations; ageing and intergenerational support; and the social demographic aspects of AIDS/HIV in developing countries. He was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Research Fellowship in Population Science for 1987-88, and he served as a visiting professor at the University of Zimbabwe and, in 1995, as senior Fulbright scholar at the University of Namibia. Adam was a prolific contributor to several important bodies of research. Indicative are his forthcoming publications which include work on the effects of age structure on the labor force in China, the relationship between HIV and socioeconomic status in Uganda, the effects of gender relations on family planning decisions in Kenya, the determinants of contraceptive use in Nepal, women’s status and fertility outcomes in Kazakhstan. His research holds policy development implications for the coming decades. Adam’s recent work appeared in such journals as Rural Sociology, The Sociological Quarterly, Journal of Biosocial Sciences, International Sociology, Age and Ageing, and the Southern African Journal of Gerontology. Adam also worked tirelessly in departmental, university, and professional service (e.g., on editorial boards for Rural Sociology, the Southern African Journal of Gerontology, and the Rural Studies Series of the Rural Sociological Society). Adam worked in Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe as a consultant for international organizations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Population Council, UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund. Last year, by invitation of the United Nations, he was a key participant in an International Conference on Population and Development meeting on Population and Ageing in Belgium. In early March, 2000, he taught a course on social gerontology in Malta for the United Nations Institute on Ageing.
He is survived by his wife, Susan Enea Adamchak in Manhattan, KS, his son, Nikolai Adamchak in Louisville, KY, and his father, two sisters, and two nieces, all in New York/New Jersey. Adam will be missed by his colleagues and students at Kansas State University. We will miss his quick sense of humor, his working class, New Jersey directness, his professionalism, and his contributions to our individual lives and to the collective life of the department. He will also be missed by his former students, many of whom he remained in close contact, and by his professional colleagues around the world. An endowed award, the Donald J. and Susan E. Adamchak Graduate Student Award in Demography, has been established in his memory at Bowling Green State University. Michael Timberlake and Leonard Bloomquist, Kansas State University; Gary Foster, University of Eastern Illinois; John Wade, Southeast Missouri State University