Ernest A. Adams III was born in the Redmond home of his parents, Ernest Alexander Jr. and Mabel Pearl Parks Adams, both prominent members of the community. Mabel's family owned the Parks Livery Stable and a later motor stage line, and Ernest Jr.'s father was District Manager for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Young Ernie attended Redmond Elementary and Redmond High School, and married his high school sweetheart, Muriel Sanford, in 1931.
The couple moved in 1935 to Carson City, Nevada, with their young daughters Beverly and Arlene and occupied the former home of Mark Twain's brother. After serving in World War II, Ernie Adams relocated his family to Reno in 1948. He launched a new career in retailing with a successful Sprouse Reitz store, whose patrons included Red Skelton and Bing Crosby, among other famous entertainers.
The Adams family grew to three granddaughters and three grandsons, three great-granddaughters and one great grandson. Ernie Adams passed away in December 1992 at the age of 80, followed by his wife in February 1996.