One of Burnley's finest sadly dies

Wallace Norman Adams spent WWII in Canada with the RAF.
Wallace Norman Adams spent WWII in Canada with the RAF.

One of Burnley’s most individual sons has died, with Wallace Norman Adams - the former RAF pilot, local businessman, and cherished family-man to be missed by many.

Born in 1922 in Burnley to Samuel and Sophia Adams, Wallace - who passed away at the age of 94 on November 30th - led an undeniably fulfilled life, which saw him travel to North America during WWII, explore his passion for cars, planes, and boats, run a successful local business, and have three children with his loving wife, Linda.

An eclectic man, Wallace had interests in mechanics, owning boats and cars, and retained his pilot's licence into his 60s.

An eclectic man, Wallace had interests in mechanics, owning boats and cars, and retained his pilot's licence into his 60s.

Having worked in Martin’s Bank in Liverpool, Wallace joined the RAF in 1941 after failing the Royal Navy eye exam, memorising the test sufficiently to pass the RAF version. Posted to Canada, he travelled on the Queen Mary to New York, before arriving in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada by train.

An accomplished pilot, Wallace flew Avro Ansons, Harvards, and Hurricanes and, having passed his flying exams with high marks, he was selected to instruct the RAF navigators.

In 1943, Wallace was posted to Hamilton, Ontario, where he spent his time abroad, playing bridge and tennis, riding horses, and swimming, as well as visiting New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

A lovable maverick, Wallace was demoted in 1944 after being caught flying under 100ft over Lake Ontario. “He was quite a good fun character; he might have been showing off!” said Wallace’s daughter, Lindsay Moores. “It prevented him from being posted in Europe and probably saved him.”

An Adams' Store in its pomp.

An Adams' Store in its pomp.

After the war, Wallace returned to Martin’s Bank, where he met ‘the most beautiful girl in the bank’ - his eventual wife of 56 years, Linda, whom he married in 1951, and with whom he had three children: Louise, Carole, and Lindsay. Linda was much-loved and sadly missed after her death in 2007.

The grandson of Burnley businessman, James Adams - who established Adams’ Stores in 1886 and who was a business associate of Michael Marks’ of Marks & Spencer - Wallace went into the family business too. He and his brother George took over Adams’ Stores - which has offices on Yorke Street in Burnley - in the 1950s, growing the company to 64 outlets.

A popular businessman himself, those who worked with Wallace spoke of his infectious zeal. “In my long career, there are some people [with whom it’s] a delight to do business,” said Trevor Dawson. “They are few in number. Wallace was one of them; a true gentleman.”

“I don’t ever remember him saying a bad word about anyone,” said Clive Astley, with Dianne Waddington adding: “He always managed to cheer up my day when he called in at the office with his lovely sense of humour.”

A man of many passions, Wallace retained his flying licence into his 60s, flying friends to Clarets European Cup away games in Hamburg and Rheims in the 1960/61 season, as well as founding the Burnley Automobile Club, and was an active member of the Stanley Club located on Hargreaves Street in Burnley.

Wallace had a love of Mallorca, where he spent many a family holiday. He owned several boats, including a converted lifeboat, which he and the then-Mayor of Burnley, John Parkinson, would sail along the Leeds/Liverpool canal and on Lake Windermere.

A proud grandfather to four grandchildren - Michael, Ben, Alex, and Becky - Wallace was a well-loved family man known for his kind nature and keen sense of humour, which he retained until the end.

The funeral service for Wallace Norman Adams will be taking place on Monday, December 19th at the Burnley Cemetery Chapel at 11.30 am.