Gaining Entry to Happiness
In the summer of '92 he was a bouncer, 6 feet 5 inches tall, at some long-gone beach bar on the Jersey Shore. She was cute and underage, hoping to sweet-talk her way through the door. "He was nice and let me in," Heda Adams said of the day she met her husband, Donald Adams.
Turned out that both were students at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was a fraternity boy, No. 77 on the offensive line. "Yes, I was pinned," Mrs. Adams said, laughing.
Six months ago they had their first child, Rebecca, who, it is already clear, shares her father's outgoing, extroverted personality.
On summer evenings, Mrs. Adams and Rebecca would sit on the porch of their home in Chatham, N.J., waiting for Mr. Adams, a 28-year-old vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald, to walk up the road from the train station. "There's my girls," he would call out.
After dinner they would sometimes take a stroll through the neighborhood, sharing their day in the intimate short-hand of couples who are both lovers and best friends.
"I was H. He was D. Just the first letters. That's all we needed."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 19, 2001.
Donald Adams, life was a gridiron
On the day of his brother's wedding last year, Donald Adams insisted on tossing a football around before the ceremony. But as he was passing the ball, Mr. Adams somehow twisted his knee and pulled a ligament.
Several hours later, though, Mr. Adams managed to overcome the pain, wobble down the aisle with a knee brace on and stand as the best man in his brother Dwight's wedding.
"He just pushed on," said Dwight Adams, a lance corporal with the United States Marine Corps. "He was awesome."
Mr. Adams, the former football captain at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, was the vice president of sales of Cantor Fitzgerald's electronic trading division, eSpeed. He was on the 105th floor of the first tower hit by terrorists last Tuesday.
He was 28 years old and leaves a wife, Heda Kurlak Adams, and a 5-month-old baby girl, Rebecca Taylor Adams.
The Chatham resident was a rising star at the company and loved his job, said Dwight Adams. He joined the firm last year.
Outside of work, his life revolved around his family and love of football.
His football career started with the midget leagues at age 10 and then continued at Vineland High School, where he graduated in 1991. At Fairleigh Dickinson, Mr. Adams studied psychology and played tackle. The 6-foot-5-inch football player had a commanding presence on and off the field.
Five months ago, Mr. Adams became the father of baby Rebecca.
"He was so excited to teach her about football and things," said Heda Adams.
Heda Adams said her husband was ecstatic to be a father and his face lit up everytime their daughter was in the room.
"He was very loving," she said. "He loved everybody. He loved life. He loved friends.
Mr. Adams was a member of the New Jersey Bond Traders Association, St. Patrick's Church in Chatham and the Stone Harbor Golf Club.
In addition to his brother and wife, Mr. Adams is survived by his parents, Robert and Jean Adams of Vineland; sister-in-law Stephanie Adams of Yuma, Ariz.; grandmother Dorothy Riley of Maryland; in-laws Thomas and Candace Kurlak of Chatham; brother-in-law Russell Kurlak; sister-in-law Dawn Kurlak; nephew Gregory Kurlak and niece Allison Kurlak of Chatham.
A memorial Mass will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Church in Chatham. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Rebecca T. Adams Scholarship Fund, 9 Carmine St., Chatham, N.J. 07928.
Profile by Katie Wang published in THE STAR-LEDGER.