WEBBERS FALLS — After more than six years, people remember 1997 Webbers Falls High School graduate Stephen Adams.
They laugh at stories and pictures from his childhood. They shed tears when they consider the likelihood of never seeing him again.
Stephen Adams has neither been seen nor heard from since shortly before Christmas 2004, when he called his girlfriend on his cell phone. He was 26 at the time.
Even though his family continues to hope and search, they chose to celebrate Stephen Adams’ life with a memorial service Saturday at First Baptist Church of Webbers Falls.
“Stephen’s been gone since 2004 and we’re still grieving from the loss,” said his father Carl Adams, as dozens of friends and family members streamed into the church. “We want this to be a celebration of his life and to give everyone a chance to say good-bye to him.”
The service was a way to give Stephen Adams’ aging grandparents a sense of closure, Carl Adams said.
A picture of the adult Stephen was adorned with flowers on the church stage.
Stephen Adams’ oldest brother, Chris Adams made people smile as he told how he and his youngest brother used to fight and play when they were kids.
“We had to make allies with each other just to get through the day,” Chris Adams said. “We’d kick each other all day long. But nobody else could kick any of us brothers, Bradley, Stephen and me.”
Chris Adams said Stephen inspired confidence.
“Sometimes he was week and had asthma,” Chris Adams said. “But I envied things that made him strong. I envied his lack of fear and his tenacity.”
Bradley Adams had trouble getting through his tribute to Stephen.
A gospel quartet sang songs of hope: “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Knowing You’ll Be There Makes it Easy to Go Home.”
A slide presentation showed snapshots of his life, some had funny captions: “Always goofing around,” or “Mullet alert,” which accompanied a picture of Stephen with an old haircut.
But when a projector showed a picture of Stephen Adams smiling proud in a black tuxedo, Chris Adams couldn’t take it and left the sanctuary in tears.
“I missed out on the last part of his life,” Chris Adams said, catching his breath outside the church. “He was in high school when I went into the military.”
He said he was away when Stephen Adams went missing.
According to stories in the Muskogee Phoenix, a private investigator said Stephen Adams left class at Northeastern State University at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 13, 2004. Reports show Adams called his girlfriend from his cell phone at 11:07 a.m., and told her he was on his way to the Keys area to drop off someone. He has not been seen since.
EquuSearch volunteers from Illinois and Texas searched parts of Tenkiller Lake in 2006 in search of Adams, but came up empty-handed.
Carl Adams said he is sure his son is dead, but has not given up on his determination to find “Stephen’s remains.”
A slideshow of Stephen’s life ended with some of his latest pictures, a description of Stephen and the caption “Please help us get justice, Stephen.”
Carl Adams said he continues to work with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and other state officials on solving the case.
“I’ve been to Oklahoma City several times. I’ve e-mailed every state senator I could and kept in contact with our senator, Earl Garrison,” Adams said. “I do everything I can do.”
You can help
If you have any information about Stephen Adams’ disappearance, contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation: (800) 522-8017.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.