Adam Gabriel Prentice


August 17, 1976 to September 27, 1997


Adam means, "Man Of The Red Earth."

Gabriel Means, "God Is My Strength."

Adam at twelve monthsWho Was Adam Prentice?

This file is an excerpt taken from the Eulogy given by Pastor Michael Rowe of Osterville Baptist Church at Adam's funeral and written by his mother.

"I learned that I was pregnant with Adam while attending graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in November of 1975; ironically, the very same university where Adam died twenty one years later. My relationship with Adam’s father was unstable, but I was thrilled to be pregnant. I knew that I would do what I had to do to raise this child.

My first marriage ended before Adam's birth in August of 1976, and I soon learned that few support systems or day care options were available for single mothers in graduate school. I was forced to withdraw my candidacy from the Masters in Fine Arts/Fiction Writing degree program, my life-long dream.

As I was from the Cape Cod area, I relocated to Hyannis and began working two jobs immediately after Adam's birth.

From very early on I knew that Adam was a gifted child. He was focused, organized and driven. As a toddler and pre-schooler, he had little interest in playing with other children. He was always more comfortable with adults, but would tax their patience with his constant questions and curiosity. In spite of a visual and hearing impairment, he excelled at sports and academics.

As Adam grew older, if he wasn’t working, studying, or at practice for one of the many sports he played each season, he was enjoying his other past-times: the water--(swimming and surfing), reading his Bible, raising funds for the many charities he supported, writing music, or playing his guitar.


To fully appreciate Adam’s many talents, I’d like to pay tribute to each:

Academics: Adam became an entrepreneur at the age of seven when he came home with a report card lacking initiative. I told him that, if he brought his “Fairs” and “Goods” up to “Excellent's," I’d give him ten dollars a piece for each "Excellent." It was a bribe I was willing to pay if it meant enticing him to do what I knew he could, and it worked. From that point on, Adam came home with most report cards filled with the highest grade possible per subject, and I’d scramble with the weekly budget to account for the extra expenditure.

Academically, Adam was gifted, but he also worked hard for his achievements. Only yesterday I received a letter from UMass inviting him to join the national honor society key program reserved for students who held the top ten to fifteen percent grade point average at their college or university. He was to have been inducted on November sixteenth. I also learned yesterday that he had been chosen for another engineering grant he’d applied for.

Work: Adam excelled at work and was known for his dependability, over-achievement, fairness as a supervisor, leadership skills, diplomacy, willingness to stay until the job was done, and detail. He particularly loved teaching children, and was so proud to watch their progress.

Faith: When Adam was young, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. For many years, he wanted to be a pastor, and he soldiered for Christ as he soldiered for the many causes he always raised money for. He read his Bible daily, and put aside time to pray, regardless of his busy schedule. As Adam grew older, he found it more difficult to discuss his personal relationship with Christ to his peers openly, but he continued to study his Bible daily before school each morning.

Adam's spiritual beliefs were reflective in the way he tackled his fundraising projects relentlessly and by the love and loyalty he showed toward his family and friends. Whenever a friend needed comfort, he was always there to encourage, guide, or listen--as Christ had always been for him.

Hope: In his few short years, Adam overcame the tragedies of not knowing his natural father, losing both grandparents to slow, tragic deaths, and watching his beloved Auntie succumb to cancer after a six year battle. These tragedies never dampered Adam’s spirit; indeed, he was there for me when they dampered mine. In Adam accepted Christ by faith, and he is now with Christ because of his faith. I do find comfort in that, but I have no answers for the “why” of Adam’s death. I have searched my soul and begged God for answers because I just don't understand how anyone with a spirit like Adam’s could be needed anywhere other than here? Why did the Lord Adam and I both loved so much allow such pain and tragedy to befall him? And me?

I don't have the answers, but Proverbs 3:5-6 tells me to 'Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.' This is one of my favorite verses, and I have no recourse but to cling to it during my darkest hours.

The mother of one of Adam's friends referred to him recently as a, 'Wise old soul in a young man's body.' Five days before his death, he wrote another friend from the YMCA, Gordon LeBlanc, who is seventy three years old, that 'All Jesus asks of is that we accept Him. I do. And because of that, I know he'll have a spot in His kingdom for me.'

Belief: Words can't begin to express what that letter Gordon was so gracious to share quotes from truly means to me...

Sports: Adam loved sports, and excelled at most. Football was his all-time team favorite, but injuries forced him to switch to soccer in his sophomore year. He was very fast, and speed helped him in hockey, baseball, and basketball. He was the captain of both his hockey team and his swim team.

His passion was swimming. Adam's debut at Craigville beach was on August 23, 1976, when he was six days old. He had been cranky all day, and I longed for the mental enjoyment of the sun and ocean after having spent the summer pregnant. As soon as we settled on the beach, he stopped crying immediately and fell asleep.

The beach became our respite. By the time Adam was three, I’d taught him to swim. He raced enthusiastically through the Barnstable Recreation Department’s swim program. At night when most mothers have to force their children to bathe and shower, I’d be forcing Adam to get out of the tub. He’d sing and play for hours, then tell me he hadn’t washed his hair yet so he could buy more time. When he was eleven during a swim-a-thon, he had to be dragged out of Lake Wequaket after one hundred and twenty laps because he was getting so tired and cold that the lifeguard feared he'd develop hypothermia. Upon approaching the bath house, he ran to the food tables, but he’d been in the water so long that all the food was gone.

I’ll always remember Adam first at the beach.

Music: Adam taught himself to play the guitar when he was eleven. He never took lessons, just practiced. He wrote his own lyrics and music, and hoped to someday pursue a dual career in engineering and music. “Topwater,” Adam's band, recently recorded three arrangements. I have copies for anyone interested.


In Memory To those who knew and loved Adam, this final walk will be painful. For his loving family Mom, Dad, Aaron, Abbi, Aunt Maryann, Uncle Danny, cousins, Viv, Laurie, Nicki, Carrie, Randi... For his childhood friends Billy, Caemus and Megan, Meg G., Matt, Tim, Joe C and Joe I, Brian, Corey, high school and college friends Scott, Jill, Tom, Beth, Kelly, Jeb, Jeremy. My beloved crew at the Woman’s Body Shopp, who in so many ways helped me raise Adam all those years I took him to work with me... I have faces for most, but there are many more. Angie, Eric, Jo Jo, Jim, Jacey, Valerie. Supervisors, employers, Patti, Mary, Christina, Jacki, his co-workers, staff, super and gate attendents at Covell’s Beach, the ocean, the sunset; dawn, so many he loved, such things he loved. And others I can’t remember to name. Forgive me.

On Friday, September 26, Adam was planning to come home to the Cape to surprise me, but his transportation fell through, and he began studying instead. At some point during the early evening, he put his math book down and started drinking shots of vodka and rum with his dorm friends. Several noticed that Adam was drinking beyond his usual pace and voiced their concern. He agreed and left the dorm with his friend Kelly to get some fresh air. They walked and talked together for over an hour, during which time Kelly said that Adam returned to his normal self.

Once back at the dorm, the two were met by the others they'd been with earlier, who were leaving for an off-campus party about a mile away. Though others continued to drink at the party, Adam and Kelly did not. His last drink had been around 9:30 p.m., before they'd left for their walk. Shortly after midnight, Adam told Kelly he was tired, and he wanted to go home. She told him to wait for the others because there had been several stabbings and fights on campus in recent weeks, and she thought it best that they travel together as a group. While she was in the bathroom, Adam grew impatient and left anyway.

When Kelly returned to the dorm about an hour later, she was immediately concerned when she couldn't find Adam, and expressed her concern to the others. However, they told her not to worry; Adam was a big boy and had problably run into friends on the way home. No one searched for Adam, and no one reported him missing.

At 4:30 a.m. that morning after learning of Adam's death, I called Matt, Adam's Amherst room mate and a close friend from the Cape. I was near-hysterical, but knew I'd have to be gentle with Matt. I assumed that he had been with Adam, so he would surely know all the details of what had happened. The doctor had told me that I would need to get the details from the college; that he was unclear how Adam had been injured. I called the campus police department immediately, but they put me on hold for ten minutes, then told me I'd have to call back because they had no information--the investigating officer was still at Adam's dorm.

Adam's dorm friends found out about his death only after I called to question Matt. Even though the officers were there when I called, they had not told the group anything. I thought that Matt must know what happened; instead, in my own grief I had to tell him what I knew had happened.

"Lifeguard of Barnstable" headstone

To all of you who knew Adam, those I’ve named, and the many I forgot to name. Beloved relatives, dearest friends, former and present teachers, parents of his friends. Co-workers, his special little students — the “future gems” of Barnstable — to all of you, I ask you to join me in remembering Adam as your lifeguard. He is the lifeguard of Barnstable. How he loved this town, your children; the people of Barnstable, Cape Cod, and God. This is my only comfort — that he knew and loved God.