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Kenneth Stanley "Boots" Adams Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Kenneth Stanley "Boots" Adams passes away in 1975.

Kenneth Stanley "Boots" Adams was an American businessman.

Adams was born on August 31st, 1899 in Horton, Kansas. His father was an engineer on the Rock Island Railroad. In 1902, due to flooding, the family took in various co-workers of Adams' father. One of the men noticed that Adams wore a pair of boots, even to bed. From that point forward he was known as "Boots." He graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1917. After graduation he moved to Dewey, Oklahoma where he worked for an ice delivery company. He was thankful for the heavy lifting in the job which kept him in shape when in became a college athlete in the fall of 1917 when he enrolled in the University of Kansas. He played football, basketball and baseball while in college. He ended his college career prior to graduation in 1920 when he accepted a job Phillips Petroleum Company.

Adams started at Phillips Petroleum as a warehouse clerk. The job came to him in part since he was playing for the Phillips 66ers, an amateur basketball team sponsored by Phillips Petroleum. By 1932, Adams had ascended through the ranks of Phillips Petroleum to become the assistant to one of the founders Frank Phillips. Frank was impressed by Adams and promoted him despite the objections of Phillips Petroleum's executive staff. Frank told Adams "I'm going to object to everything you do, but you go ahead and do it anyway."

Once in his new position Adams reconstituted the Phillips 66ers. During the Great Depression, Frank has stopped sponsoring the team and Adams felt it was time to restore the team. Because of his work with the team in 1958 Adams was inducted into the Helms Foundation Amateur Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 1938, at the annual stockholders meeting Frank announced his plans to retire. He included in his retirement speech that he wanted Adams, "the fast-talking young man from Kansas with the big ideas, be elected as the new president of Phillips Petroleum Company." The board of directors unanimously elected Adams as the next President of the Company. With that vote Adams became one of the youngest ever to lead a major corporation in the United States.

At the time Adams took over, Phillips Petroleum was an oil and gasoline company. Adams wanted to diversify the company holdings. He did this in part by entering the natural gas business. Prior to this time, natural gas was burned off during the drilling process. Phillips at that point began collecting the natural gas and eventually had 13.3 trillion cubic feet. A net worth in 2016 dollars of $8,323,486,957. Adams also employed new staff in diverse scientific disciplines. One of the new employees was a geologist who wrote a report which ended yielding numerous new drill sites, striking a lot of new oil.

Adams also diversified into the petrochemical industry. Newly hired engineers in that field began to research petroleum based polymers. Adams was mostly focused on developing synthetic rubber which was soon to become a booming market. With the loss of natural rubber supplies due to World War II, the government created the GR-S, consortium of companies, including Phillips, which was used to help develop synthetic rubber to help the war effort for the United States and it's allies.

In 1948, Adams created the Phillips Chemical Company which in 1951, was granted patents for high-density polyethylene resin (HDPE) which was marketed as Martex. Martex was the material used by Wham-O to create it's biggest seller in the 1950's the Hula Hoop.

In 1949, Adams decided to consolidate all company operations under one roof. A building was constructed in Bartlesville, Oklahoma which was named the Adams building. The street that was also renamed Adams Street. In 1962, a golf course in Bartlesville was also constructed named after Adams as well.

In 1964, Adams retired from the company. His retirement was celebrated by the entire town and even President Dwight D. Eisenhower attended the party. Eisenhower it is said was a direct beneficiary of the GR-S program. It is also said that Eisenhower had the most to lose from the programs failure. Regardless, the two men had a friendship and Eisenhower, who took up painting after leaving office, gave Adams a painting of Adams sitting at a conference table inside Phillips Petroleum. The painting is still today treasured by the Adams family.

Adams passed away on March 30th, 1975.

Adams was a member of Bartlesville Lodge No. 284 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.