Battling cancer, Lake County Assessor Adams steps down
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 1, 2013 7:18PM
Hanks Adams, shown after his swearing in as Lake County assessor, died Sunday. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: November 3, 2013 6:32AM
Hank Adams, the first Republican elected to countywide office in 50 years, on Tuesday announced his retirement from public life.
Adams, 77, has been battling bone cancer for more than a year, according to his wife, Jean Shepherd, who is also St. John Township trustee. The longtime couple wed in July.
“It’s progressing and he is getting very, very tired and weak. He needs to retire now and let somebody else take over,” Shepherd said.
The decision to retire did not come easily for Adams, who is two and half years into his first term as Lake County assessor, she said. He previously served as St. John Township assessor and as a Schererville town councilman.
“Two words come to my mind when people think about him: amazing and remarkable,” Shepherd said, describing Adams as a jack of all trades who owned a furniture store and television repair shop and is a certified electrician, welder and licensed real estate agent.
Adams has been battling cancer for a year and has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Shepherd said his condition was improving until last week. Adams is recuperating in the hospital from a blood transfusion after experiencing side effects from chemotherapy.
“Up until Thursday he was doing fine ... there are a lot more side effects from the chemotherapy this time,” Shepherd said.
Lake County Republican Party Chairman Dan Dernulc said the party would follow state statute and conduct a caucus where potential qualified candidates can vie to finish Adams’ term. Dernulc said anyone who takes the position has big shoes to fill.
“He worked very, very hard. He was very diligent. He just loved doing what was right for our county and, of course, the Republicans, too,” Dernulc said.
He described Adams as a true public servant who, when he came to work for the county on Jan. 1, 2011, was able to get the property tax bills out on time, something the assessor’s office was not able to accomplish for years prior to his arrival. Dernulc said Adams also was effective in making sure property owners were paying their fair share, identifying undertaxed properties and those that were not on the tax rolls but should have been.
“He was a bulldog when it came to making sure people were assessed correctly. There is nobody underassessed, that’s for sure,” Dernulc said.