Rev. Donald Adams remembered
In Hearne, it’s hard to find a life that Rev. Donald Adams has not touched in some good and sweet way. Here’s my story.
When I first came to Hearne to be the Robertson County newspapers reporter, General Manager John Melvin told me to go to the Hearne school board meeting. No one had covered HISD trustee deliberations in a while. I learned the time and date but somehow got the impression (probably the wrong impression) that the District was not interested in my covering Board meetings.
When I arrived at the administration building, I had no idea where the meeting was, so I looked around outside for someone with information and spotted the tallest, best-dressed fellow in sight. It was hot but he looked fresh as a daisy. He didn’t give me instructions. He escorted me in, introduced me to the other Board members, and made me feel right at home. I had never worked as a reporter before, but Donnie Adams made me feel like I might be able to do it. Empowering people to be all they could be was one of the many things Donnie Adams was all about.
With natural graciousness and a gentle manner (but don’t think he couldn’t be firm when firmness was called for), Donnie Adams never ceased to amaze me. At every football game, every special school activity, everything involving his grandkids or the many others he loved and mentored, he was there. I might not see any other board member representing the district and cheering on its children, but I would always see him. During the Lymas and Johnson athletic director years, he rarely missed a football practice.
When Riverside Cemetery fell into disrepair, it was Donnie Adams who brought it back. He is responsible, with some help from Cathy Lazarus, for both the main Riverside historical marker and the historical marker for the grave in the middle of Wheelock Street—the landmark that many people first think of first when they think of Hearne, TX. The story is told right there on the memorial marker that Adams secured and placed there.
On the Sunday before MLK Day, the Chums Club remembers Adams as an honorary Chums Club member. He would always ask, “What do you need?” and then he would make sure Hearne’s primary service organization got what they needed to fulfill the task they had in mind.
Not only did Adams revive the Riverside Cemetery, he also made viable the Hearne Athletic Boosters Club. By manning the concession stand and holding other fund-raising events, the Boosters made sure the Hearne Athletic Department had what they needed. Donnie Adams made it work
Probably nobody in Hearne loved his children and 18 grandchildren more than Don Adams. In his Sunday morning sermons, he would often say they were his while they were asleep and wife Lollie Ann’s while they were awake—but they were Don’s and Lollie’s 24/7. He was proud of them and they knew it. “He thought the world of those children,” said Lollie. It was obvious.
One of Don’s most remarkable feats happened every Thanksgiving when, on the day of the school Thanksgiving Dinner, he went to the Hearne cafeterias during every grandchild’s lunch period and ate with every one. And he never seemed to gain an ounce of weight! He was always reminding us that “we need to do the best for the kids.” He lived out what he meant by that.
He served on the boards and supported the Little Dribblers, the Hearne Little League, the Back-to-School Rally, and Pee Wee Football—coaching the little guys and gals in football as well. He also worked with the Blackshear Alumni, the Hearne Ministerial Alliance and served as pastor for the North New Hope Baptist in Franklin, Associate Pastor for Trinity Baptist in Hearne.
As a man of God, he knew where his strength came from. Lollie says she would often find him in his chair in the living room totally spaced out—he didn’t hear a thing she said. “God was working on him,” said Lollie. He and God communicated on a regular basis and no one could pray better with more love for “your Darling Son, Jesus,” than Rev. Adams. No wonder when he preached his first sermon at Trinity on Nov. 23, 2003, it was standing room only with people streaming out the door.
Another thing everyone knew about Don was that he loved his wife. Election Administrator Trudy Hancock once told Don that he didn’t need to bring Lollie’s lunch to Franklin while she was working elections. “We can get her lunch.” Don would not hear of it. He brought her lunch every day. In fact, sometimes he brought everyone’s lunch no matter what political party they represented.
Don believed in feeding people. He believed in taking his wife out to lunch and always let her choose, even though she wanted him to make the choice sometimes. “You know how your stomach is,” he would say. So Lollie always chose. If she chose Pappadeuxs, he didn’t blink. They got in the car and went. And Don didn’t even like sea food, said Lollie. He would always get alligator and salad. But on several occasions he cooked cat fish for the facility and staff of HISD—they loved it. One time he grilled steaks and pork chops for the Eastside staff. At least once every football season, Don and the Boosters would cook for the opposing team—especially if they had a long drive back. He wanted them to have a safe trip and get home at a reasonable hour—something that would not happen if they all had to stop at a restaurant and wait for service. And what the Boosters served, the full barbeque meal usually, was much better. He thought of kind things to do that no one else considered.
“Our door was always open and still is,” said Lollie. They have entertained the HISD administration and coaches and administrators from other schools as well.
What to know how to stay married? Model the Adams family. Donnie and Lollie Adams spent 41 years and 4 months together. “We never separated. He never went home and I never went home.” In fact, since Lollie’s mom loved Don as much as she loved her own (maybe more?) it probably would not have done Lollie any good to go home. “He was mine,” says Lollie, but she shared him with so many others who loved him too.
Donnie and Lollie had their ups and downs and disagreements like every couple, but they took it to the bedroom—they never fought in front of their kids.
“I was proud to call him mine,” Lollie continued. “I am who I am because of him. He changed me—he changed me for the best.” Even after 41 years of marriage, Lollie said she would speed up to get home whenever she saw his truck in the driveway. And on top of everything else, he could make her laugh—make a lot of people laugh. He was quick with a quip.
Lollie never left the house without Donnie saying, “Be careful; love you; bye.” We never said “good bye,” she explained. And Donnie didn’t mind washing the dishes.
Rev. Donald Adams was a dedicated man—dedicated to his God first and foremost, his family, and his community, especially its children. A unique, rare man.
Melissa Freeman \ Robertson County News