County mourns of loss of Deputy Steve Adams, ‘small in stature, but very big in heart’

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Switzerland County Sheriff’s deputy Steve Adams always considered himself to be a “peace officer” more than simply a policeman. Faithfully serving the Switzerland County community that he grew up in as an officer for more than 30 years, the community was saddened Tuesday morning to learn of the unexpected death of a true friend of the community.

Steve Adams was found dead at his residence on Braytown Road on Monday evening. The Switzerland County Coroner’s office said that his death was from natural causes.

“He touched so many people,” Sheriff Nathan Hughes said of his friend and deputy. I don’t know how many people he’s picked up and taken home. He’d see people walking down the street going from the store back to Switzer Square, and he’d pick them up and help them home. He loved everybody, I truly believe that.”

Nathan Hughes remembers meeting Steve Adams when both were in elementary school in 1959. The two became friends from that moment, and when Steve Adams was a reserve police officer with the town of Vevay in the mid-1970s, he asked his buddy to come along and be a part of the program, too.

“He’s the one who got me into law enforcement,” Nathan Hughes said. “He always loved law enforcement. It was a big part of his life, because he cared about people.”

In fact, Nathan Hughes remembers the two friends sitting around as reserve deputies and talking about the future – a future that would one day come true.

“I had a lot of things figured for me and him,” Nathan Hughes said. “We had a lot of plans together. We used to talk when we were on the town, and he’d say: ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if someday one of us was sheriff and the other was deputy?’ I’d say ‘Yes, it would, Rooster’. And then that did happen.”

Shaken from not only the loss of a deputy, but also a close friend, Nathan Hughes said that he considered it an honor to have known and worked with Steve Adams.

“I had the pleasure of being with him for the past 40-plus years, and that’s something that I’ll cherish forever,” the sheriff said. “It’s a terrible loss for me, for my family, for the department, and for this county. Since people have found out, they’ve been calling and wanting to do things for him. It just goes to show that he tried to take care of everybody.”

Nathan Hughes said that Steve Adams was a good neighbor, as well, making sure that things around his Braytown Road neighborhood stayed calm and quiet. In fact, friends say that’s what he was doing on Monday night when they found him sitting in his cruiser.

“He was sitting out there, ‘watching the ridge’, as he would say. Watching his neighbors and keeping them safe,” Nathan Hughes said.

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Steve Adams first went to work serving as a reserve officer for the town of Vevay in the 1970s, and in 1978 he was a proud member of the 50th graduating class of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. He served 20 years on the Vevay Police Department, leaving to accept a position as a deputy on Sheriff John Johnson’s staff 12 years ago.

He served under Sheriff Johnson and then Sheriff Wayne Browning before going to work for his good friend Nathan Hughes four years ago.

Small in stature but very big in heart, Steve Adams commanded the respect of his fellow officers and the community that he loved. He had several nicknames around the county – all of which were labels of love.

“John Johnson gave Stevie the nickname ‘Rooster’,” Nathan Hughes said. “John was on patrol one night and Steve had a vehicle pulled over and John said, ‘Look at that Rooster beside the road – wait, that’s Stevie.”

Nathan Hughes said that Steve Adams embraced the nickname, and through the years people brought him all sorts of items and apparel that had rooster’s on them.

“They didn’t call him ‘Rooster’ or ‘Walking Small’ because they wanted to make fun of him,” the sheriff said. “They called him that because they loved and respected him.”

A show of that respect continued throughout the day on Wednesday as members of the community took flowers, cards, and stuffed animals to the Switzerland County jail, placing them on and around Steve Adams’ cruiser, which was parked in front of the flags in a place of honor. A black sash crosses the hood.

A man who was fiercely dedicated to his community, Steve Adams was always giving of his time to community causes. He would readily volunteer to talk to school children; and could always be counted on to give his time to various causes.

“He told me once, ‘You know why I’m so good at talking with kids, don’t you?”, Nathan Hughes remembers. “He said it was because he was down on their level. That’s the kind of man Steve Adams was. We could try, but we will never be able to give back what Steve gave to this community. He touched so many people.”

“He was a very big little man.”

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For an obituary of Steve Adams, see page 2 of today’s edition.