By Mallory Peebles and Rick Schleyer
Channel 2 News
3:35 PM AKDT, August 15, 2012
More than 1,500 people attended the late state Sen. Al Adams' memorial service at ChangePoint Church in Anchorage on Wednesday.
In addition to family and friends, many state dignitaries also attended. Adams died Monday following a long battle with illness.
"I knew it was coming but still, it was so unexpected," said Rep. Reggie Joule. "It's a tremendous loss for his family, his friends and it's a big loss for the State of Alaska -- but Al used his time very well."
Adams spent much of his time in public service representing the Kotzebue area, including eight years in the state House and 12 years in the state Senate. Still, those close to him say he always managed to make time for his family and culture.
Vincent Distefano read Adams' obituary at his service.
“He often organized subsistence hunting and fishing trips for his children, where he passed down traditional Inupiat skills,” Distefano said.
People say Adams never forgot where he came from, and often fought hard for the people in rural villages. Gov. Sean Parnell worked alongside Adams in different positions, and says he did great things for the people of this state.
"He was so instrumental in securing education funding for the (Kotzebue) region -- water, cost equalization and necessities of life for the rural communities,” Parnell said.
As well as being a powerful advocate for the rural villages, many people remembered Adams for his softer side.
"I enjoyed Al so much: his smile, his twinkle, his sense of humor," Parnell said.
It's a detail U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski also recalled Wednesday.
"His smile. He had that crinkly beautiful smile -- that will be with me as long as I'm around," Murkowski said.
"I'm going to miss his smile. His whole face would crinkle up, his eyes would close," said close friend and eulogist Byron Mallott. "He is deserving of this kind of tribute, this kind of remembrance of his life, and I think that he's sitting above up with that incredible Inupiat smile on his face."
Memorial contributions can be made to one of Adams' favorite charities, Bean's Cafe in Anchorage. Its mailing address is: 1101 East 3rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501.
A second service for Adams in Kotzebue is scheduled to take place Friday.
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