Silhouettes Feature in La Gaceta Newspaper
The names is Eddie Adams Jr. OK, so it doesn't sound as cool as the original, "The name is Bond, James Bond".... but Eddies Adams Jr. never dreamt of being as cool and suave as James Bond, just as well traveled.
"When I was a kid I used to see James Bond movies and he'd go to all these fabulous places and do these fabulous things and I would say to myself that one day I would see the world too." remembered Adams. "I was a poor kid growing at in Lake Whales(sic) in a one parent home so most people would have laughed at my dream as impossible if I told it to them. But I could do anything I set my mind too."
Years later Adams would fulfill his dream of seeing the world. In fact, Adams has fulfilled almost every dream he has ever had - college student, professional scientist, community activist, newspaper publisher, architect, photographer, and videographer. Adams was right. Whatever he has set his mind to, he has accomplished.
"That's a lesson I learned from my mother," said Adams. "Life was never easy for her, but with hard work she prevailed."
Born in Lake Wales on October 13, 1953, Adams and his four siblings were raised by their mother alone; their father left when Adams was 6. Adam's mother would work 16 hours a day as a cook, nanny housecleaner or whatever other job she could find, then come home and tend to her own family.
Adams, being the oldest child, became the family's pseudo father, taking care of the family while his mother was at work, the picking fruit on the weekends to help take some of the financial burden off his mother. "I figured if I could make my own money, then that was more money my mother could spend on my brothers and sisters" said Adams.
Despite the countless hours of work he put in at home and in the fields, Adams still found time to make Honor Roll on a regular basis and become one of his high school's most active students, lettering twice in track and field and three times in football and band. He was also active in the Latin Club and the Student Council and earned the rank of Life Scout as a member of the Bot Scouts of America.
"I can't see how kids say they are bored." said Adams. "A person who is bored has no goals. If you have goals, whenever you have free time you work towards those goals. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I knew if I wanted to fulfill all my dreams in life I needed to do more than the average in high school student. I needed my resume to be three times longer."
As a student at USF from 1971-1976, his resume got only longer. He was the first African American to receive a degree in Microbiology from USF and was a member of the African American Gospel Choir, President of the Black Pan-Hellenic Council, President of the Theta Gamma chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and President of the Black Student Union. He was also a member of the USF Student Budget Finance Committee, the USF Student Government Activities Committee and the Minority Pre-Med Society, all while working as a lab assistant for both USF and the Hillsborough Health Department. "You can only better yourself by staying active," he said. " People who sit on the couch all day always end up sitting on the couch all their lives".
After graduating from USF, he went to work for Tampa General from 1977-1996 as a cardio-pulmonary laboratory technologist, performing detailed analytical test in connection with a wide variety of cardiopulmonary-vascular procedures and heart surgeries, which ascertain information useful to physicians in the diagnosis of cardiopulmonary disease and other medical disorders. But, his work as a lab technician barely scratches the surface of his at TGH.
About 10 years into his TGH career, Adams and a handful of his co-workers saw a need for the employees to for an organization that could voice their concerns to management. TGH had over 3,500 employees at the time, but no employee representation. Adams and his co-workers formed the AD Hoc Employees' Civil Service Committee, which has evolved into the Employee Advisory Committee. He was also the co-founder of the Black History Week Celebration at TGH. After realizing that TGH was one of the few organizations in Tampa without activities celebration Black History Month, Adams helped organize three days worth of activities - an African museum; an African fashion show, guest speakers and soul food in the cafeteria. The three day program was so popular that the following year it was expended into a full week, and has since become TGH Multicultural Week.
None of this was enough to keep Adams busy though, so, along with four of his colleagues, he also founded and worked as editor and publisher of his own newspaper, the Florida Sport Tribune. It was a free paper that covered all the sports, from the (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers to motorcross to fishing, and became a profitable business. When two of his staff members used the newspaper to springboard their writing careers and moved on to bigger ventures, Adams refused to give up, cutting cost by learning the photography trade so he wouldn't have to outsource the position.
After five years, though, the newspaper became too much of a burden and Adams had to shut it down; but he used the skills he learned through the newspaper to succeed in another part-time venture - wedding photography. When he realized how much more money he could earn if he was also a wedding videographer, he completed training in professional video broadcasting and production..
The was during his years at TGH that he fulfilled his James Bond dream. He would take one month off a year and travel the world - Europe, Asia, South America, he went everywhere.
Desire all his success, though, Adams felt his career was becoming stagnant at TGH. He felt he reached the top level in his field and the only way to continue to climb the ladder of success was to change fields completely.
Originally he wanted to return to USF and earn a master's degree in chemical engineering. But, USF and Florida Metropolitan University created a Cooperative School of Architecture and had no minority students in the program. Adam's friend who worked in the new department pleaded with Adams to become their first minority student, asking him to take a few classes and see how he liked it. He loved it.
Adams amended his schedule at TGH so he could work weekends and have two days off to attend class. He worked 40 hours a week at TGH and spent another 20-30 hours a week at USF. On some occasions he would go four straight days without a second of sleep. In 1995 he graduated, by 1996 he was working for the architectural firm of Rosier/James Associate, Inc. and today he operates his own firm, Adams and Associates Residential Design.
But, STILL, this is not enough for Adams. he has other dreams - he dreams of serving the community.
His first foray into community service came as a member of the Krewe of Liberalia, of which he would later become President. Still a member of the Krewe, Adams said it never ceases to touch his heart when they award college scholarships to underprivileged children, hoping the children can fulfill as many of their dreams as he had.
Recently he dreamt of serving the community through public office. A Temple Terrace resident, about one year ago the city sough to permanently close down a road in his community. His neighborhood organized against the closing, with Adams stepping up as the leader. Members of the Temple Terrace City Council were impressed with Adams leadership skills and told him that a man with his abilities should run for City council. He didn't win the election, but Adams doesn't look at it as a loss.
"I won in so many ways", he said. "I became the first minority candidate to ever run for office in the 78 year history of Temple Terrace and learned a lot about how city government works. Those are two victories."
Adams said he was unsure if he will resume his dream of serving in public office, saying he has to weigh his options, both professionally and personally - being married with two children now means, unlike when he was in his 20's and 30's, he can't stay awake for four straight days. "I still have a lot of dreams I want to fulfill." said Adams. "But none as big as seeing my family fulfill their dreams." If Eddie Adams, Jr.'s past is an indicator, this dream will be fulfilled as well.