Robert John Adamson
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Knowing "how things work"… a defining quality of Robert John Adamson, 91, of Greenville, SC, who passed away on February 5, 2014. Perhaps this was obvious to many who knew him, particularly those who knew that professionally he was a mechanical engineer. Nevertheless, his natural curiosity took him well beyond this common frame of professional reference.
Understanding "why things work", although not completely knowable, took him on a spiritual journey that provided meaningful purpose to his life and a faith that was both deep and unwavering. God truly made a difference in all aspects of his life, from his youth, to his military service during World War II, to his career at Ford Motor Company, to his family life with Erna and their two sons, Rob and Tom.
His perceptiveness around "when things work" was also remarkable. It required a keen sense of awareness about others. He knew that things can only work if people are aligned around common values and, at some level at least, have similar hopes and dreams. With admirable intentions, he put this skill into practice in multiple settings, as diverse and broad reaching as the spirit of golf camaraderie at several clubs, lay leadership within the church, spearheading major neighborhood initiatives, developing groundbreaking products for international use, and creating a cohesive and loving family legacy.
To Bob, "things that work" created meaning and purpose. He often said, "God willing, I want to feel productive every single day." Some days, that meant being a seeker, of wisdom and greater faith. Other days, it meant designing something with masterful precision. And on countless days over the course of their 71 years together, it meant providing for and caring for Erna in a way that was totally selfless.
In Bob's 91 years of life, he made a lot of things… truly work.
Robert Adamson was born in Detroit, MI and grew up there with his father and mother, John and Davina (Cormie) Adamson, and his sisters, Ella and Anne. Before serving his country, beginning in 1942, he graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit (1940) and became married to Erna Garner (1942). His family included two sons, Robert and Thomas. Bob spent most of his career as a design engineer at Ford Motor Company, working on the original Ford Mustang team, as well as naming the Ford Falcon model in 1960. At Ford, he spent several years on executive assignments in both Europe and Asia, providing an opportunity for him and Erna to deepen their family connections and expand their friendships internationally.
Bob was active as a 32nd Degree Freemason (Scottish Rite) and Shriner. His journey began in DeMolay as a youth, becoming a 3rd Degree Master Mason in Hawaii, where he was stationed during World War II, and then evolving over the years to this ultimate status after retirement in the Carolinas.
For over two decades, he was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church of Greenville, and as part of that affiliation served on the Congregation Council and the Property Committee.
Bob is predeceased by his sisters, Ella (Duncan) Duning and Ann Lightfoot. He is survived by his wife Erna, his son Rob and wife Mitzi Mills, his son Tom and wife Cindy, and his three granddaughters and their families, Lori Bonin, Traci Wilson, and Jessica Adamson.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran at 11:00am on Saturday, March 1, followed by a reception and visitation.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 421 North Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601 or to Shriners Hospitals for Children, 950 West Faris Road, Greenville, SC 29605.
Cremation Society Of South Carolina
328 Dupont Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
Published in The Greenville News on Feb. 9, 2014