Richard Burnett Adams

Born on March 22, 1950 in Portsmouth, Virginia
Departed in Palm Bay, Florida on June 17, 2020

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

Guestbook Entry

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26 entries.
Pamela Daley from Royal Palm Beach wrote on August 10, 2020:
Richard was a friendly and helpful individual. I met him when I 1st started attending FPPTA. A kind and nice man,
Kathy & Jonathan Adams from Palm Bay wrote on July 18, 2020:
Thank you all for your kind words. It is comforting to hear from family and friends during this difficult time. 💖
Hugh Doyen from Palestine, Texas wrote on July 16, 2020:
A very good man.
Deborah O'Keefe from PALM BAY wrote on July 14, 2020:
Well done Richard. Rest in peace. Deepest sympathies to family and friends.
Don Smith from Palm Bay wrote on July 14, 2020:
I work with Richard for 32 years at the Palm Bay Police Department. He was one of the most nice's and carrying individuals I ever knew.
Bev Goodin from Palm Bay wrote on July 14, 2020:
My sincere and deepest condolences to Kathy and Jonathan and Family.
Patricia F. Shoemaker from Tallahassee, Fl wrote on July 14, 2020:
Richard was one of the kindest most generous people I have ever met. I enjoyed working with him on pension matters over the years. He was a steadfast supporter for the State Municipal Police & Firefighters Office and worked tirelessly to help educate his fellow officers, city officials, Legislators, and the public on the importance of a defined benefit for the police and firefighters. My heartfelt thanks to his family for sharing him and my condolences on his passing. He will live on in the many lives that he touched! God bless you! Trish
Lou Pettigrew from Sharpsburg wrote on July 13, 2020:
Dickie will always be loved and missed. Lou.
Becky Melius from Palm Bay wrote on July 13, 2020:
Richard accomplished so much in his life! I never saw him without a smile on his face. I am still stunned that he is gone and I will miss him.
Mr and Mrs Mike Havener from Melbourne wrote on July 13, 2020:
Dearest Kathy, and Jonathan, we would like to express our most sincere condolences to you both and the rest of your family. May you feel God's presence during this time of grieving and may Richard's memory keep you smiling. We loved Richard as I am sure many others did.
Mark Cannon from Melbourne, FL wrote on July 13, 2020:
Really enjoyed knowing Richard. Good times at Valkaria Airport!
Mary Steele from Palm Bay wrote on July 13, 2020:
will always be he was a Big part of our Bossie family. I was a lucky one Richard was so excited about feeding the flying squirrels at night and took me out to watch him. They flew from all around down to the feeder at night they knew what time he came out. He cared so much about everyone I will truly miss him. He was a great brother n law. 💕 Mary
Mary Steele wrote on July 13, 2020:
Richard In heaven we will meet again, your missed and always will be. I remember when Richard and Kathy were dating I would come home from school and Richard would come over to mom's and take a nap. My mom loved that he just felt at home. He was a big part of our family. 💕 Kathy and Jon your in my prayers 💕
Fred and Shelly Doyen from Aledo, Texas wrote on July 13, 2020:
He was more than an uncle to Shelly. He was more like an older brother. She's shared many memories of him, and he stands for her, and for all who knew him. Visiting with him over the years, I can see why he's held in such high esteem. A true gentleman and a patriot who served his country and community with honor for many years, I too hold him in highest regard, and am grateful to have known him. He was loved by all who truly knew him, including me.
Dennis Strickland from Cornelius wrote on July 13, 2020:
My thoughts are with all of you. What an amazing man he was! I have fond memories of my young cousin running around as a small child. I wish we had spent more time together over the years. Sending prayers for comfort and peace. Dennis
Martha Bryant from Wilmington wrote on July 13, 2020:
I was raised at OO with Richard (Dicky) as I knew him. We parted ways after going through school and didn't get to reconnect until our 50th reunion. I was so blessed to have briefly reconnected with him and to meet his lovely wife, Kathy. May Blessings of Peace be with his loved ones and may Richard always shine his light down upon us.
Patricia Doyen from Spokane wrote on July 13, 2020:
Uncle Dickie was one of the best men in my life I adore him and am grateful every day of my life for his influence on me and our family. I love him and his beautiful family.
Zester & Rosemary Taylor from West Melbourne wrote on July 13, 2020:
God bless and give comfort to his family. I am sure Richard will be well rewarded in Heaven.
Joan Needelman from Melbourne wrote on July 13, 2020:
What a great person Richard was, and Mitch and I will never forget him. I remember the day Jonathan was born, Richard came up to me and said "I have a son, isn't that wonderful". He will be missed.
John & Roberta Masse from Viera wrote on July 13, 2020:
A true friend and mentor. Richard will truly be missed. Much love to Kathy.

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