Tributes Honor Jerome Adams, Bayview Bartender Whose 'Story Will Not Be Forgotten'
April 10th, 2018, 2:07 PM
Serving guests and members at Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit for half a century earns deep respect and creates emotional connections, naturally. Wide admiration and fondness for Jerome Adams are expressed online in reaction to news of his death Sunday at age 77.
Adams, a bartender at the riverside club at the edge of the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, lived in Eastpointe and died at Heartland Nursing Home in Grosse Pointe.
A memorial service will be held Saturday afternoon at St. John AME Church in Ailey, Ga., his hometown.
"He will be greatly missed," Chyresse Nicholson of Grosse Pointe posts under a lengthy tribute at the club's Facebook page. "And greatly celebrated," adds Blake Arnold.
Nancy Derringer, a Grosse Pointe Woods journalist, posts at her page:
When I was working on the club's centennial history, everyone said Jerome kept all the secrets and was, in many ways, the boss of the whole place. This leaves a very big hole that will never be perfectly filled.
These are among other tributes on social media and a GoFundMe drive to help his widow, Denise, with expenses:
- "Jerome was Bayview. He will be missed, but will always be in our hearts." -- Kathy Gregart, Clinton Township.
- "Had the pleasure of meeting Jerome at Bayview Yacht a few times. Such a pleasant, always smiling, gracious gentleman!" -- Toni Breem
- "This man always treated me like a princess through our Bayview Yacht Club years! I've known him from a very young age! My sister and I were always calling my Mom (Carla Hutchcraft-Mercurio) down at the club as kids. Jerome would answer and it did not matter how many times we called in a night, he never got upset with us girls! Loved that he made me my first Hummer, sitting in the Blue Room! God bless you, Jerome Adams! You will always hold a special place in mine and my family's hearts!" -- Kelly Hutchcraft, New Baltimore
Greg Thomas, a former vice-commodore of the club, posts an 1,800-word appreciation and biographical essay written in 2004. Excerpts:
Jerome Adams' relationship with us can be summarized in a single, simple phrase: our friend. . . .
We've all seen Jerome working until the last job was done . . . When you watch Jerome work, you can tell that he likes the people, and you can tell that they like him.
He protects the children. He spoils the women. He respects everyone. He takes care of those who need care. He gives his pals a rough go. He shows newcomers his unfailing hospitality. He treats the place not as if it were his place of employment, but as if it were his home.
And it is. It is his home, and it is our home. Jerome somehow manages to make it just a little more homey for us all.
'He radiated humanity and love'
Touching reminiscences also are posted, anonymously, at Reddit, by a Deadline reader and frequent commenter from Grosse Pointe who uses the screen name "GP For Life." It tugs our emotions and is shared nearly in full:
While he was best known for inventing the Hummer cocktail, it was probably the most unremarkable thing about the man. What made him a great man and a great Detroiter was his character.
He had a smile that could warm the coldest nights, melt the most icy hearts and, lift the most beleaguered spirits. He was a man whose grit and determination appeared effortless, even to people who knew it couldn't be. He was humble beyond comprehension, but could never be humbled by another. His wisdom, laid with its simplicity and clarity. He radiated humanity and love.
I knew Jerome for as long as I can remember. He used to chase me out of the bar when I was a young kid, then he'd shepherd me around the back, pour me a pop and hand me a cup of goldfish before swatting me and shooing me away.
Later, when I joined the club as a young, and perhaps not quite of legal drinking age, man, he'd welcomed me back home from sun-scorched races and long boat deliveries. Always making me happy to be back on land. Somehow, his smile would sooth the wind and sunburn.
A few years after his first wife passed, I was at his bachelor party where he told me that I needed to find a good woman and raise a family. Advice that I took to heart, but got stuck on the first step.
When I finally turned 21 and headed to celebrate, Jerome poured me my first drink while feigning ignorance about me being not quite of legal age prior to that. Not long after that, I took my parents and grandparents to dinner. Jerome saw us sitting in the dining room and came over and told my family that I had grown into a fine young man. My father, who is not a man prone to undeserved compliments looked at me and nodded while my mother, much like my father with regard to compliments, blushed and beamed.
When I was going to Wayne and would lug my books into the bar during the absurdly-long period between classes, he'd sit with me in complete silence. In the fall we'd watch the leaves float down the river and in the spring we'd watch the ice break and float down to the city. His friend and colleague, Tony, would tell me about growing up in a Detroit that was much grander than I had ever seen.
The day that Lehman Brother's went under and financial markets were seizing, I walked into the bar after watching the macabre spectacle from the front row and Jerome greeted me as he always did when I appeared in a suit: "What? Were you in court today or something?" Then he told me that everything would work out, even though every ounce of my knowledge told me that it was far from a certainty, it reassured me.
After a long drive back to Detroit from burying my mother, I stopped by to see Jerome. Sitting at the bar with my laptop catching up on work, Jerome did something he had never done before. He walked out from behind the bar to set a drink down next to me and he placed a hand on my shoulder while he leaned over to whisper to me; "She was a good woman and she was proud of you." It was the most comfort I had felt in months.
Years later, he and I sat together by the fire on a brutally cold and arctic winter afternoon. He shared with me how he felt seeing the city fall and rise. He and I both knew then that he wasn't going to live to see it through. He asked me to tell him what it would be like. So I did my best.
Most recently, at my grandmother's wake, Jerome riddled with cancer came down to the club to serve drinks to my guests. We both knew then that the next one would be his. He didn't have to be there, and had I known that he would be, I would have told him to stay home. He knew that too, but he came anyway. Four months later, it's today, and the inevitable happened.
To those of you who had the honor and pleasure to have known Jerome, you should feel lucky to have known such a man as him. He will be sorely missed, but his story is one that will not be forgotten.
And neither will his drink.
Whenever you hoist one, please remember the man behind it.
For he was more than just a man who invented a cocktail. He was a friend to more than most.
And he'll be missed.
-- Alan Stamm
Original article, Monday:
Jerome Adams, a widely beloved bartender at Detroit's Bayview Yacht Club credited with creating Detroit’s iconic Hummer cocktail, died after a struggle with cancer, Eater Detroit reports.
The club confirms Monday:
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you Jerome Adams, our dear friend, passed away yesterday morning around 5 a.m. with Denise, his loving wife, by his side. The family wishes and arrangements will be conveyed as soon as available. Please keep Jerome and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
In 1968, he reportedly created an "alcoholic milkshake" made with white rum, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream and crushed ice, Brenna Houck of Eater Detroit writes. In 2017, Adams celebrated his 50th anniversary at Bayview.
He was born in Ailey, Ga., a small sawmill town, as the oldest of five children, according to a club biography. He graduated from an Atlanta high school in 1958. He moved to Detroit with friend in 1964 and worked at Ford Motor Company’s Sterling Stamping Plant and later its Rouge Plant.
He and his first wife, Belinbda ("Cookie"), married at the club in 1989. She died in 2002. They raised two daughters, Sabrena Adams of Vidalia, Ga., and Deondra Davis of Uvalda, Ga., and a son, Reginald Reese of Detroit.
He's also survived by a brother, Edward Flowers of Mr. Vernon; sisters Debra Snead of Atlanta and Annette Bell of Ailey; two granddaughters, 25 and 26; and two twin grandsons, 21.
Three stepchildren joined his family from remarriage in 2004.
Adams had battled cancer over the years, according to a GoFundMe page that has raised nearly $21,000 since March 31. It says:
Jerome Adams has battled cancer three times. First it was his prostate, then his lungs and now his bladder. Jerome's wife, Denise, is his primary health care worker and ever present aide.
Jerome has given so much to our community.
This Fox 2 news video is from June 2017: