Augusta police chaplain of 41 years died Saturday

The Rev. James Adkins Sr., a chaplain for the Augusta Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff's Office for 41 years, died Saturday.

The Rev. James Adkins Sr., a chaplain for the Augusta Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for 41 years, died Saturday. He was 91.


“My dad had a servant’s heart. His commitment was to help people,” said Jim Adkins Jr., the oldest of his three sons.

Serving members of the law enforcement was an extension of Adkins’ duties as church pastor at Woodlawn Baptist Church, formerly on Walton Way. He always had a special interest in helping police, often taking middle-of-the-night phone calls to go wherever a distraught officer needed Adkins’ guidance and prayers.

“He’s made a point to get to know them, spend time with them and just being a spiritual mentor for these folks,” his son said.

Adkins, the youngest of 13 children, spent his early years on a family farm in Shongaloo, La. He grew up in Texas and graduated from Baylor University and Southern Baptist Seminary.

Adkins met his wife of 61 years on an airplane; Bess Shaw Adkins was the flight attendant. They were married on the Bride and Groom Radio Show.

Adkins first became a police chaplain when he was the leader of North Atlanta Baptist Church. Several motorcycle police deputies were his church members. He served as chaplain for the Atlanta Police Department from 1959 to 1963, then moved with his family to Augusta.

He visited officers in the hospital, attended funerals, and often delivered food and cakes to express appreciation for law enforcement.

“That’s just something that got into him. It was near and dear to his calling in life,” Jim Adkins said.

A few years ago, Adkins was honored for his service to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at Law Day, an annual event that recognizes law enforcement.

“He was always there to answer the call of officers in need. He will be missed,” Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said. “He was very conscientious as chaplain.”

Many people remember Adkins for spending hours on the phone calling his friends on birthdays, to offer encouragement or to say, “I’m just thinking about you,” his son said.

Adkins was a practical joker, fisherman and history scholar.

Richmond County Chief Deputy Sid Hatfield will deliver an address at his funeral, which is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Warren Baptist Church. An honorary police guard will attend a visitation service from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors.