By Marilyn Miller
Former FBI Akron agent Don Adams will be remembered for his public service to the community. He also served as Fairlawn’s police chief, headed a private corporate security firm, wrote a book on the John F. Kennedy assassination and was a founding member and past president of the Aladdin Foundation of Akron, Inc., which grants wishes to children with chronic medical conditions. He was the 2007 Humanitarian Service Award recipient by the Former Agents of the FBI Foundation.
Mr. Adams had many careers in his lifetime, in all, five.
“My dad was a busy man. He had a lot of interests. He enjoyed everything he did. He was always active and energetic and rarely slowed down. He was a wonderful role model, instilling in us good principles and a good work ethic,” said his son, Mark. “He believed in whatever you do, you should do it right and to the best of your capabilities.”
Mr. Adams, 83, died June 14 of respiratory complications.
The family will receive friends from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at Hummel Funeral Home, 500 E. Exchange St. A funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday at St. Sebastian Church, 476 Mull Ave.
Mr. Adams was born in Barberton. He graduated from Barberton High School in 1948 and from Kent State University in 1955. He spent 3½ years with the Army in Korea and Japan.
He and his wife, the former Jeanette Weems, who died six months ago after 59 years of marriage, have four children: Jeffrey of Willoughby, Dawn of Copley Township and Mark and Douglas, both of Akron.
Mr. Adams sold life insurance with New York Life for eight years before deciding he wanted to be an FBI agent. He spent 10 of his 22 FBI years in the Akron office before he retired at age 51.
In an interview with the Beacon Journal in 1982, he said he relied on the skills he developed as a salesman to help him do his job in the FBI. He just dealt with a different class of customers.
Mr. Adams was known for his head-on techniques.
He said he remembered his father, Arthur Adams, who was a former Akron police detective, telling him that if someone owned something, he would become angry or combative if accused of stealing it, but would grow defensive or resort to denials if he really stole it.
He would list all the reasons he thought the person committed the crime and would confront them with his list. He would build a case against the person, convict them and put them in prison. He never lost a case.
“You’d be surprised how much weight it carried to show someone you had overwhelming evidence against them,” he told the Beacon. “You have to be honest with a man. In my father’s words: You’re only as good as your word, and your word is your bond.”
While asked to serve on a task force to choose a new police chief in Fairlawn, former Mayor Pete Kostoff didn’t have to look far before asking Mr. Adams to fill the position.
“Chief Adams served at a pivotal time in the city of Fairlawn’s history [1993-1996],” he said.
Mayor Bill Roth, who worked with Mr. Adams for about a year and a half, said Mr. Adams’ entire career was giving back and public service.
“He cared for our community,” the mayor said. “He was a good mentor to many of the officers, including his son.”
Lt. Mark Adams has been on the Fairlawn Police force for 30 years and considers it his dream career. He said he knows his father loved being a law enforcement officer, too, and that his grandfather molded that inner drive in his father.
Mark is a third generation police officer, but said it goes to the fourth generation, because his son is a police officer in Wilmington, N.C.
Mark said when his father retired as police chief, he headed up a security firm for 10 years, then retired again. But when a friend sent him a report on the JFK assassination, he started reflecting on the subject and his past research in November 1963 as an FBI agent and ended up writing a book, From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle.
“He never believed Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter,” Mark said. “One of his FBI assignments was to investigate a man, [Joseph Milteer] who had threatened to assassinate the president who claimed Kennedy would be killed from an office with a high-powered rifle. He found out that the man was in Dallas when the president was shot, but was always puzzled as to why he had limited access to the man.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.