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Finger Lakes Museum founder John Adamski has died

Jul 14, 2020

John Adamski
Credit provided photo

The man who was the founder of the Finger Lakes Museum has died.

John Adamski died Saturday at home in Dansville with his family by his side. Adamski was battling cancer, he was 77.

The Finger Lakes Museum in Branchport, Yates County, is a work in progress and something the Rochester-area native was working on for the last dozen years.

While some facilities are in operation, including hiking trails and a canoe and kayak center, there is still pending work on the museum building itself, a former elementary school. Some of the internal work, like asbestos removal, has been done but exhibit space and other amenities remain to be finished.

His son, also named John Adamski, said his father's work to establish the museum centered around his deep passion for the Finger Lakes and love of the outdoors.

“I think it became his home and he had some previous experience living up in the Adirondack area for a while and it’s just such a beautiful area that he felt it needed a museum to represent it," his son said.

Adamski believes his father took comfort in knowing the work on the museum was progressing.

“I think at the end he was settled and he liked the momentum that was there," his son explained.

Executive Director Natalie Payne said that even though Adamski could not see the project through to its completion, he was happy it was getting closer to being finished.

Rendering of plans for the former elementary school to be used for the Finger Lakes Museum.
Credit fingerlakes museum.org

“We are closer to making the museum happen now than we’ve ever been in the past and he knew that, and he was so excited to see it happen," Payne said. "We’re sad that he can’t be here since we are so much closer than before, but he knew it would happen...he knew it would happen and that made his heart happy.”

Payne said that fundraising will continue and hopes the museum can be completed within the next two years.

Cynthia Kimble, president of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, worked with Adamski and was a friend. She said the museum will be a great legacy for Adamski, because of his devotion to the region and the project.

Creekside Center, a canoe and kayak livery at the Finger Lakes Museum.
Credit fingerlakes museum.org

“I think John had a passion for the Finger Lakes that is second to none," Kimble said. "His images and photographs really can evoke emotion about what we have to offer right here in our own backyards."

Payne said that Adamski was beloved by many in the area because he didn’t do anything halfway.

“From being an outdoor guide to a charter boat captain to founder of the Finger Lakes Museum, an architect, wildlife photographer -- he had many, many passions and anything he set his heart to, he did, 100 percent,” Payne said.

Calling hours for Adamski are Thursday, July 16, at the Kevin W. Dougherty Funeral Home, 8624 Main Street in Honoeoye from 3 to 6 p.m. A memorial service and interment will be held privately.