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Ernest Paul Adams

September 11, 1937 ~ November 13, 2020 (age 83)


The term "Legend" is widely overused today to describe everyone from overpaid sports figures to politicians and movie stars. But on Friday, November 13, 2020, we lost a true legendary cowboy, Apache Adams.

Apache was born on September 11, 1937, in Del Rio, Texas. His mother, Mildred, had traveled from their River Ranch 75 miles south of Marathon, heavy with child, to her mother’s home to have the baby. A couple of days after she gave birth, her husband, Ulice Adams, came to Del Rio to see his new son. He took one look at the infant who already had coal black hair and said, "Dang, he looks like a little Apache Indian." For the next 83 years that was all most folks knew him as.

Growing up on the Rio Grande without electricity or running water, Apache spoke Spanish before English, and was a’horseback by the time he could walk. He became a cowboy under the watchful eye of his father, his uncle, Elby Adams, and a host of seasoned Mexican vaqueros of the old breed. His mother, being a Babb by birth, afforded even more mentors who were legendary top hands in their time.

Apache ranched all over the Big Bend country of West Texas. He always seemed to end up in the roughest country, and usually bought the rankest horses that no one else wanted. When other ranchers had wild cattle that couldn’t be gathered, they called Apache and the job got done. Along the way he roped a mountain lion and a bear. But neither was a dangerous as the rogue bulls that he was known for bringing in with his "war wagon" trailer and some of his "boys". (Young local cowboys who loved to ride with him.)

For the past 35 years, Apache also enjoyed fascinating audiences at cowboy poetry gatherings around the west with his adventures. He was the consummate storyteller, and he had plenty of stories to tell. Audiences sat spellbound as they realized that the west was still alive, and that all horses weren’t like those in the movies. Apache was loved and greatly respected by his fellow performers as well. One look and they knew he was "The Real Deal".

Apache Adams was a cowboy’s cowboy, and greatly respected by his peers. He never met a stranger and had friends in every walk of life. He loved his family and never missed a chance to talk about his grandkids and great grandkids. His word was his bond, and you never had to guess where he stood. He made us all sit a little straighter in the saddle and examine how we lived our lives.

When asked once what he wanted written on his tombstone, he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He said, "Apache Adams, One Hell of a Cowboy." And that he was.

Those who went before Apache were his parents, Ulice and Mildred Babb Adams. Sister Eula May and brother Delbert, sons David Ulice Adams and Gary Dwayne Adams, and wife of 62 years, Joy Adams.

He is survived by brother David Adams, daughters Robin Roller and Rhea Hardaway Thomas, son Yadon Hardaway, wife Tanya Blair Hardaway Adams, grandchildren Jack Adams (Amber) and Wendye Hartzell (Russell), Dustin Roller (Jessa), Wesley Roller, Matt Crumpler (Amanda), and Chris Crumpler. Great grandchildren Emma, Ashtyn and Addison Adams, Paige, Kennedy, and McKenna Hartzell, Abigail, Gary, and Hunter Roller. Also, by nieces Kathy Rainey, Mildred Ann Potter, and Brooke Adams, and nephews David Adams, Jr., and James Adams.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to westernsportsfoundation.org, or the justincowboycrisisfund.org.

Funeral service will be November 18, 2020 at the East Hill Cemetery at 1:00pm

At the request of the family, there will be a drive-by viewing at the East Hill Cemetery at 12:00pm.

Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at: www.heritagefuneralhomeofthebigbend.com


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ernest Paul Adams, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
November 18, 2020

1:00 PM
East Hill Cemetery
Fort Stockton, TX 79735

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