Richard Burnett Adams
Richard Burnett Adams, age 70, died at home on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 surrounded by nature and his tropical plants with Kathy, his wife of 47 years. He was the youngest child and the only son of five children born to Leamon Harrison and Katie Marie Burnett Adams. He was predeceased by both parents and his stepmother Faye Doty Adams; by his sisters Dorothy Adams LaForm and Barbara Adams Finch; sisters-in-law Margaret Bossie Nichols, Ann Bossie Williams, and Marie Bossie Thompson; brothers-in-law Johnnie Joyner, Bernard Berger, and James Bossie; his nephews, and nieces JW Joyner and his wife Theresa, Deborah Finch Weston, and Brian Berger; and his beloved Vietnam K-9 Sam and Shih Tzu Molly.
He was proud of his son, Jonathan. He adored him and could not think of any greater responsibility but that of being his Dad. He wanted Jonathan to have a two parent loving home that he did not have. He was thrilled when Jonathan met and married Kristen O’Reilly and introduced into their family kittens Tiger, Rosie, Beeps and Neeners. He encouraged Jonathan’s friends, James Rice, Cameron Crandell and nephew, Billy Steele, to go on various adventures, spending time in the family pool, having bar-b-ques, riding Jonathan’s go-kart, camping in the backyard and on the Indian River islands, zip-lining, and trampolining. He made each of Jonathan’s friends go through a driving test with him before he allowed them to ride the go-kart. He and the family pet Shih Tzu, Molly, became a team with the VITAS Volunteer Paw Pal Program where Molly became a therapy dog, with Richard as her handler, visiting area nursing home residents. Richard was a kid at heart. He enjoyed making people laugh and tried to mentor all earning their respect and admiration. He will be remembered as never meeting a stranger and making those he met part of his circle of life-long friends.
He was born in Portsmouth Virginia and was raised at the Oxford Orphanage “00” (now known as The Masonic Home for Children in Oxford, North Carolina along with two older sisters. They knew firsthand the impact of alcoholism and the loss of their mother to cancer at young ages. Life was difficult and challenging for growing children at 00. There, he learned the skills of farming, shoe repair, baseball, basketball, football and singing in the choir. He learned humility, compassion, and a work ethic of endurance and fortitude with his 300 Red Devil brothers and sisters. He was so happy that he was able to attend their 50th reunion this past October to reconnect and share memories of farming, pranks, weekly dances, and swimming in the nearby springs. He was a Master Mason, Melbourne Lodge No. 143, A 32nd Degree Mason in the Scottish Rite, and a Shriner with the Azan Aviators’ Unit, Azan Shrine Temple, Melbourne, Florida.
He attended school at Oxford, NC, and Pascagoula, MS, graduating from First Colonial High School, Class of ’69 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He graduated with an AA/AS Degree at Brevard Community College (AKA Eastern Florida State College), a BA in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida, master’s credits at Florida Institute Technology in Aviation Administration and Human Resources Management, and master’s credits at the University of Virginia in Criminal Justice/Public Administration. He was the first police officer from Palm Bay Police Department to graduate from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 125th Session. He was a member of the FBI National Academy Associates. He was a graduate of the Institute of Applied Science and Chicago, Illinois and started the first fingerprint section at Palm Bay Police Department. As a criminal investigator and heading up that Division, he worked with numerous agencies throughout Brevard and surrounding counties. He was a court-accepted Expert Witness in Fingerprints.
He enlisted in the US Army, 981st Military Police Officer K-9 Unit from 1969-1972 upon graduation from high school. He was stationed in Na Trang Vietnam. He received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Two Overseas Bars, Good Conduct Medal, Expert Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Pistol Bar (.45 caliber) and First-Class Badge with Grenade Bar. After returning to the United States, he was stationed at West Point where he directed traffic for the West Point football games. He additionally served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Office of Special Investigations, for four years in the 1980’s at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida completing Protective Services and Anti-terrorism courses in Washington, DC. He was a member of the Vietnam Military Police Sentry Dog Alumni. He was among the Vietnam veteran’s that returned to the US under a cloak of disguise and despair and was not allowed to wear his uniform on the return flight. He was a proud Veteran and vowed to never treat a veteran in any service to the US the way he and his fellow veterans were treated. His only regret was leaving his K-9 Sam in Vietnam….”nemo resideo.” Honor him by honoring all Veterans!
He began his love of flying at Stewart Field while stationed in New York. One of his most memorable flights as a new pilot was flying the Hudson River and around the Statute of Liberty. He was a certified private pilot and a charter member of the Indian River Flying Club in Melbourne, Florida serving as Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary/Treasurer. He served as a Board of Director on the Valkaria Airport Board from 1994-1995 and Chairman in 1996. He earned his single engine Seaplane rating at Brown’s Seaplane Base in Florida. He was a member of the Seaplane Pilots’ Association for 30 years and the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association for 46 years. His fondest memory was flying his son Jonathan for his first plane ride to the Florida Keys. A later trip included flying through a rainbow that appeared. He and Jonathan also enjoyed trips to Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida.
He spent over 30 years in law enforcement at the Palm Bay Police Department starting as a Dispatcher in 1972, working his way up from Patrolman to Sergeant , Lieutenant, Uniform Patrol Commander, Criminal Investigation Division, Internal Affairs, Special Operations that included Community Policing, the Marine Unit and Dive Team, K-9 Handlers, Traffic and Emergency Response Team, Aerial Surveillance, Public Information Officer, and Acting Chief. He retired in 2003 as the Public Information Officer working with various news media and major television and newspaper affiliates in Central Florida. He was a registered lobbyist for the Florida Intelligence Unit, a member of the International and Florida Division of Identification, and a graduate and member of the National Academy of Police Diving with advanced diving certifications. He met the love of his life, Kathy Adams, at the Palm Bay Police Department where they were hired two weeks apart and soon began dating. When their relationship progressed to an engagement, they had to be approved by City Council to continue working together. Richard recently joined the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 56, Vero Beach/Sebastian.
He was a current Board of Trustee with the Palm Bay Police and Firefighters’ Pension Board serving for more than 43 years. He served as Trustee, Vice Chairman, and Chairman. He spent his working career dedicated to the future retirement of all eligible Palm Bay Police Officers and Firefighters and their families. His desire was for them to have a sustainable retirement for their years of dedicated service to the citizens of Palm Bay.
He was on the Board of Directors of the Florida Public Pension Trustees’ Association from 1993 through 2000, serving as Vice Chairman from 1996-2000. He achieved his Certified Public Pension Trustee (CPPT) Certification in 1999. His membership in this educational association spanned almost 30 years where he encouraged pension plan trustees from around the state to become educated and certified public pension trustees in finance, investments, strategic planning, and pension fund administration.
Kathy, Jonathan, and family thank all their friends, neighbors, law enforcement officers, The Palm Bay Police and Fire Departments and Fire Rescue, The Palm Bay Police and Firefighters’ Pension Board and Staff, as well as the many people that have sent cards, donated food and time, made telephone calls and expressed messages of condolences and memories. The outpouring of such support love and support has provided comfort during this time of loss. Due to the COVIC pandemic, services will be held at a future date.
Donations may be made to: The Masonic Home for Children, 600 College Street, Oxford, NC 27575. Donations may be made in “Memory of Richard Adams, Alumnus of the Home.” (Tax Deductible Donation). The VITAS Paw Pal Program, 4450 W. Eau Gallie Blvd., Suite 250, Melbourne, FL 32934. Donations may be made in “Memory of Richard B. Adams & Molly.” Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida-Brevard Branch, 6928 Vickie Circle, Suite A, West Melbourne, FL 32904. Donations may be made in “Memory of Richard B. Adams.” They can also be made on their website at http://www.feedhopenow.org/.