Obituary: John R. Adams
– August 27, 2023
John R. Adams, a Wyoming native and beloved longtime resident of the Yampa Valley, died peacefully on August 27th, 2023, at one of his favorite places on earth, the Flying Diamond Ranch.
John grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, where his family owned a ranch, a restaurant, a dairy farm, and explored for some of Wyoming’s first uranium mines. At eighteen, he left Wyoming for Denver, Colorado, where he would graduate from the University of Denver.
John lived an extraordinary life that was highlighted by adventure, love for his family, great stories, and better friendships. He was known for his big personality and for some interesting dichotomies. John identified as both a hippie and a cowboy, a miner and a conservationist, a family man and a serial entrepreneur. In his younger years, he rode bulls and backpacked around the world, flew planes, and climbed some of Nepal’s highest peaks. In his later years, he wore a suit and tie to the office, ran several businesses, raised three boys, and spent most of his time with his wife Tammy and his family.
John arrived in Steamboat Springs in 1968 following his father and immediately fell in love with the Yampa Valley and those he met here. John’s first job in Steamboat was at Mt. Werner, where he was a lumberjack on the crew that cut in “The Storms” ski runs: Hurricane, Tornado, and Twister. In typical Steamboat style, he held numerous other jobs as well.
After a year in this small mountain town, John decided to broaden his horizons. In 1969, he embarked on a backpacking excursion which quickly turned into a world tour as he explored Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, and many other countries.
His world travels provided him with a unique perspective and certainly contributed to his lifelong interest in world politics, history, and international business. Throughout his life, he was known for enjoying good times while “solving the problems of the world.”
After traveling the world for a few years, John fell victim to the “Yampa Valley Curse” and returned to Steamboat in the early 1970’s where he started the 7 N Ranch, now known as the Flying Diamond Ranch, with a few good friends. John and his friends were well known in Steamboat social circles throughout the 1970’s. The group was comprised of an odd combination of hippies, rodeo cowboys, ski bums, lawyers, local ranchers, construction workers, mountaineers, outdoor enthusiasts, young entrepreneurs, and real estate developers. They all lived very passionately, to say the least.
In 1981 John’s life would change forever when he serendipitously met the love of his life, Tammy. John and Tammy married and embarked on their 40-year journey of life while raising three sons. It was an adventure with a cast of many. Their ranch was a place to gather for life’s celebrations, fabulous meals, and parties. It was a revolving door of visits from friends, family, and multitudes of guests, even uninvited ones, who always became friends.
In business, John had a distinguished career spanning over 40 years in mining, banking, agriculture, real estate, and land conservation, where he nurtured friendships and partnerships across the globe.
In the early 1980’s John and friend Don Valentine developed the Whistler Meadows Subdivision in Steamboat and built various condos. They had the foresight to preserve community open space in their development, some of which is known today as Whistler Park. John went on to develop Deerwood Ranches and Routt County’s first Land Preservation Subdivision at Creek Ranch with his lifelong friend and business partner Brent Romick.
John followed in his father’s footsteps in the mining business. When John’s father Bob passed away unexpectedly in 1982, John shifted to become Chairman of Energy Fuels Corp, which operated the largest coal mine in Colorado and provided fuel for power plants across the country. He was also CEO of Energy Fuels Nuclear Inc., which was the largest producer of uranium in the United States during his tenure. The Energy Fuels Group built an amazing team that worked together tirelessly, building relationships that would last a lifetime. They worked with many utility companies around the world and helped to develop a partnership with several Swiss utilities, forging lasting friendships with many who worked on these innovative collaborations.
In his work travels to remote areas of the world, his quick wit, personality, and level head helped to deescalate wild and sometimes dangerous situations. He called these endeavors “Adventure Capitalism”. More recently, he embarked on one of his wildest entrepreneurial adventures, starting a gold mining company in the remote jungles of Guyana, South America. His team discovered and developed a world-class gold deposit. He is still remembered in Guyana for providing many jobs and building infrastructure which is still in use today.
John was also involved in banking in Colorado and Wyoming. He was innovative in starting the First National Bank of Steamboat Springs, remaining an investor and board member until it was sold to Vectra Bank. He built the First Financial Center which remains at Pine Grove Road and Resort Drive. He was also a shareholder, board member, and had interests in American National Bank, Laramie WY and Rawlins National Bank, Rawlins WY.
At the end of the day, John’s heart always landed back in Steamboat Springs. He could often be found on horseback, on skis, or on a boat while enjoying time with friends and family. He was even known to hop on tractors and big machinery to ponder land improvements wherever he was.
John was philanthropic in spirit and was revered for offering advice and support to others, donating generously to many organizations. He was particularly committed to continuing the legacy of our Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and along with his wife Tammy, dedicated years of service. As a board member, he was instrumental in raising capital and finding new sources of revenue for the club. Projects he was involved with included upgrades to the Ski Jumps at Howelsen Hill, building the chairlift, and starting the Steamboat Howler Alpine Slide. He even contributed his own recipes to the original SSWSC Steamboat Entertains cookbook, which was created in the early 1990’s by his wife Tammy and a team of Steamboat locals.
John was also committed to land and wildlife conservation. Throughout his career, he has preserved several thousand acres of open space in South Routt County through land contributions to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cattlemen’s Ag land Trust, and Greater Outdoor Colorado.
John was always committed to and exceptionally proud of his love for his family, considering it his greatest joy and accomplishment. He was a trusted friend and mentor to many young people in his circle. His amazing friendships nurtured throughout the years were a gift. John was blessed to have had time to reflect in the last years of his life. He considered memories and stories of incredible moments, adventures with family, and exceptional friendships as the “true gems mined in his lifetime”. He hoped these stories and memories will be retold and remembered from one person to the next. He felt incredibly grateful to have traveled his journey on this earth with so many amazing humans.
He will be remembered best for his generosity, personality, captivating conversations, and fascinating stories. His warm smile, sage advice, and zest for life created lasting bonds that will remembered with joy.
John leaves behind his wife Tammy, their three cherished sons, Wes, Joel, and Trace, daughters-in-law Stacie and Kristin, two grandchildren, Audrey and Asher Adams, who thoroughly captivated his attention, and his siblings Lynne Martin and Jeff Adams.
A memorial service to celebrate John’s life will be held at 1:00 pm on September 23rd at the Flying Diamond Ranch Event Venue, 29455 Flying Diamond Trail. All those whose lives were touched by John are welcome to attend. His friends are encouraged to bring and donate photos, written stories, or memoirs which will help preserve John’s legacy.
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