Stuart E. Adcock, Jr.: 1944 – 2009

LOUD & FAST

Stu Adcock when I knew him was enamored with power and speed, gadgets that would hiss and ‘haul ass’.

I frequently cruised the streets of St. Pete with Stu, and also to places like Orlando and Miami, in his “four on the floor” circa 1964-65 Buick Cutlass. Dark blue, I believe, almost black, with a supersized engine so hyper that even at idle the gearshift trembled, ready to pounce. Although he liked to punch it up to speed from a standing start occasionally, Stu actually kept that monster under control. I have no recollection of him ever driving recklessly.

The first skateboard I ever saw belonged to Stu, who would whiz round and round the Stu Adcock college photoupstairs four-sided hallway in Darwin at breakneck speeds, screaming ‘hallelujah’ and carooming off dorm walls like a hockey player off arena glass. I recall a deep discolored groove in the linoleum floor all the way around. Needless to say, it was best to peek first before stepping outside your dorm room.

Stu (I like to think) invented the ‘Chevy Chase flop’ before there was a Chevy Chase. You could hardly walk through a room with Stu without him accidentally ‘tripping’ over a sofa or ‘running into’ a chair. He would crash to the floor with a delightful shriek.

I got to know Stu because he was on the tennis team. My senior year (Stu was a year younger) he took me to his home in Miami Shores for a weekend. It was an upscale place on a canal with a boat out back. A big, loud, fast, powerful inboard. He loved to run it full speed at docks or shorelines and play ‘chicken,’ veering off at the last possible second. Again, that adrenaline laugh of his and the exuberance it communicated was contagious.

“Can you ski?” he asked me.

“Of course. I grew up in Florida.”

I should have said ‘no’ because Stu’s idea of water skiing is even to this day mind-boggling. He put me behind the boat on a flat round disk, tossed me a rope threaded at the end with a wooden handle, and said ‘hang on.’

Like a rodeo bull intent on tossing the irritant strapped to his back, Stu made it his mission to separate me from the rope and send me somersaulting off into space. A task he undertook gleefully, I might add. Okay, I thought to myself: his boat, his rules. Up and down the canals we zoomed, which often were only 75-100 yards wide, zigzagging right and left. I quickly figured out that I needed to stay inside the wake; if he coaxed me outside the safety of that narrow trough on a skimboard without a rudder, I was a goner. After a few minutes of this kind of side-to-side “play” to wear me down, Stu would suddenly whip the boat into a sharp U-turn and send me hurtling like a bottle rocket into the mangroves. And always that maniacal laugh, which I could see but not hear over the roar of the engine.

I vaguely knew over the years that Stu had taken up flying. I even heard rumors that he had become a commercial airlines pilot. I confess to rolling my eyes more than once at the thought of passengers thousands of feet off the ground with Stu at the controls.

I say that, but I would have gone up into the wild blue with Stu in an instant. He could act the klutz and craved the attention that ‘clumsiness’ afforded, but he was supremely coordinated and gifted with physical prowess. I always had the feeling that his thrills never came at the expense of common sense. Well, almost always. 🙂

Nevertheless, reading his obituary, something didn’t seem quite right about a plane ride with no flight plan and a crash with no obvious weather or mechanical difficulties. The final NTSB report two years later does, however, hint at the possibility of pilot error.

In the absence of certainty perhaps I should simply recall that Stu lived on the edge and thus there was a measure of congruency between his life and death.

That’s what it’s all about, to my way of thinking.

😦 😦 😦

I recently received a group portrait of our Florida Presbyterian College tennis team, circa 1964, which I post here as an addendum. I am upper left and Stu is in the lower right corner.

FPC Tennis Team c.1964

35 thoughts on “Stuart E. Adcock, Jr.: 1944 – 2009

  1. I woke up this morning with an old friend on my mind, Stu Adcock . I thought I’d google him to see if by chance I could locate him and hopefully call him with a voice out of the past. Imagine my disappointment when I learned he had passed away in 2009. I had a terrible emptiness when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to surprise him with a call.
    During the summers of 1960 and 1961 Stu and I spent much of our time together in the waters of Biscayne Bay. In fact a lot of nights were spent at Stu’s house so we could get an early start in the morning. He taught me more about water skiing than I ever imagined possible. However, the most important thing was the development of our friendship. He was a very special guy and more than a little bit of that came from his adoptive parents who were so wonderful to me. Stu and I were only in touch with one another during the summers because he went to private school out of Miami and I was a student at Miami Edison High School.
    In-spite of my disappointment and sadness this morning, I took solace in reading such a wonderful and well deserved tribute to him. It’s spot on up to and including his infamous prat-falls. He was indeed a gifted athlete but most of all he was a very special person and friend and I miss him.
    To the writer of the tribute to him, I want to say, thank you so very much.

    Bob Moss

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. I really didn’t stay much in touch with Stu after we graduated, but he was always vividly in my memory. You mention his place as being in Biscayne Bay, and I am sure you are right. I think I said Coral Gables but that’s only because I couldn’t remember and don’t know the Miami area. I have a vague unsubstantiated recollection that Stu at the time was one of the few in Florida who could ski barefoot. Do you know anything about that?

      Thanks,

      John Hayes

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    • My name is Robin Freeman and I worked as Director of Sales and Marketing for Stu at Tennessee Airways! I adored he and Joyce…We were like one big family. I met Stu at the Knoxville, TN McGhee Tyson Airport one evening when he wandered up to the Budget Rent-a-Car counter where I was working and asked if I knew where cars would be taken if in-pounded by the Airport Police ? Of course, I had NO CLUE! I offered to drive him around the airport property to try & find his vehicle, we found it! A few weeks later he stopped by again and asked me if I could type? Little did I know that typing would lead me to a 10 year commuter airline industry dream job! He said he was starting up an airline and might need a little part-time help, So I would work 6am to 2pm at Budget and then go straight over to Tennessee Airways til 6pm…After about 6 months Stu offered me full time at Tennessee Airways…Stu had a vision and I was happy to be a part of it! I was so sorry to hear of his passing, my thoughts and prayers go out to Joyce, Jill, and Dan…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes he was fantastic barefooting. It was a Dark blue cutlass. He took me up in his stunt plane and I barfed my brains out upside down. He was truly spectacular.

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    • Yes, it was a Cutlas not a Skylark, thanks for reminding me! And he may not have lived in Coral Gables, might have been some other part of Miami. All that was nearly 50 years ago! Thanks…

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  3. His barefooting was amazing. It was actually that first summer (1960) that the two of us got to know one another that his barefooting came about. I couldn’t believe it. It took me all summer to make it up on one ski and here he is in his barefeet. It honestly didn’t take him more than a few weeks to make it. He learned initially by dropping his feet out of a slalom “very carefully” (LOL). He really was gifted but most of all he was just a great and generous guy.

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      • John, is there anything more you can tell me about his life? By the way he was absolutely amazing barefoot from that first summer on. He could easily been in a ski show.
        I lost all touch with him after those two summers and would love to know more about him and his family.

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        • I totally lost touch with Stu after graduation but if I put on my “thinking cap” (assuming I can find it) I may be able to pull together some college anecdotes, although it might be a day or two before I can do so. Thanks, Robert & Laurie.

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  4. Miami Shores. I was his girlfriend for a year at FPC. He made life exciting. He was a great person. A player…..it amazes me to see that he settled down and became all that God had in store for him. I won’t ever forget him. He truly sowed what he reaped.

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  5. That was Stu. It is so nice to hear from other people who knew him….He was so private later on….it was like never knowing what happened to him. I too looked him up on line and found he had passed. He had a German shepherd called Ajax. He called his mom LuluBell and his dad never came out of his Ham Operator room. After drums, he got into the organ. Anything he did was 100%. I didnt ever know whatever happened to him from after college until reading what his kids said about him… I agree with the post that he lived life on the edge and to the fullest. That’s for sharing.

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  6. Laurie, thanks so much for sharing more info about Stu. I didn’t know about his musical talent. When I knew him both of our musical talent extended to the radio. Can you tell me anything more about his children? I really knew nothing about his goings and comings after the summer of 1962. I agree, he sure was a 100% guy.

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  7. I never saw or heard of him since like 1970. Go on the sites on line about plane crash and in one article, his kids are are talking about him. That’s all I know. He was talented in everything he did. After the cutlass came a stingray. He was great at waterskiing with his ski nautique, tennis, drums, organ, bodybuilding. He loved a good joke on or with someone. One time I filled his car to the brim with crumpled newspaper. Another time my sister and I sent him a tumbleweed in a huge box on greyhound from Colorado. The world could use more like him.

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    • Laurie, I’m assuming that you tried to pull up the article on the plane crash from that link “groupstate.com etc “. If that’s correct go to the top of this page and the tribute. You’ll see NTSB in caps in yellow. Click on that and it will take you to the article.

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  8. The one major incident involving Stu that probably everyone from those years remembers is when we took him on a ‘snipe hunt.’ That’s when you lure a guy out in the boonies in the middle of the night and leave him stranded while the rest of you go rustle up some snipe to send his way. You leave him, literally, ‘holding the bag’.

    I was there and remember thinking I would have been scared to death out there all by myself.

    We roared out of there in our cars and laughed all the way back to the dorms. But Stu accepted the joke with dignity and wore it as a badge of honor. Actually, he almost beat us back to the campus. Apparently, ever resourceful, he found a guard station at an isolated power plant, called a cab, and got a ride home.

    Stu was fun to be around.

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  9. Hi all…this is Jill Adcock Jennings, stu’s daughter. I have absolutely loved reading these posts. I just stumbled across the tribute by chance tonight. Thank you for sharing the larger than life moments and bringing a smile to my face. My dad was one of a kind. He did indeed settle down but never lost that mischievous spirit and generous heart. His love for physical comedy was inherited; to this day if I see someone fall I am in hysterics before I finally ask if they are okay. My mom misses him terribly yet feels so thankful for the life God gave them for over 30 years. Keep the stories coming! You are welcome to share on my Facebook as well. All my best, Jill

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    • Life is precious. Glad you two found this site. Yes your Dad was way special. He was always up front and if he wanted something important….get out of the way. I must say….he NEVER was reckless or took chances. He was a real examiner, always with a plan…..beneath all the joking around. He also could surprise you. One time a “date” was going up into his church’s steeple and running the light show for the Christmas pageant. The last time I saw him….he was flat on his back after a parasailing accident….somehow the harness failed 30 ft. up and he was black and blue from head to toe. He seemed to be charmed and never hurt or sick. It was a shock to find out him was like all the rest of us.
      Dan looks like a clone of 20 yr. old Stu.
      Oh…..he always had pet nicknames for his friends. What were yours?
      If at all possible and not meaning to intrude….could you put up a photo of what he looked like at 60 and maybe one of you all together? The only one I have is the FPC one on this site.
      I am truly sorry for your loss. And I send prayers for your Mom. Bottom line on Stu Adcock……he is irreplaceable.

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  10. Wow, this was a wonderful find Jill. This is Dan, Stu’s son. I see where all my gear head mischief came from even more so now =) Loud and Fast (with cars at least) is certainly in the genes.

    It’s wonderful to see so many people still fondly remember their times with him and what an amazing guy he truly was. As Jill stated he absolutely settled down but never lost the mischievous personality…just drove a bit slower and focused more on fun in the air than in cars. His crash will never be solved and it baffles me to this day b/c his credentials and skills as a pilot exceeded that of what you remember him as a skier, which were amazing. He is missed everyday and little treasures like this tribute are invaluable. Thank you so much for the excellent write up, made my night =)

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    • Thank you, Dan & Jill, for finding this site and commenting. Your dad was loved by all who knew him, even by those of us who lost touch with him years and years ago. Someone who has left a positive influence on so many is very special indeed. Thanks…

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  11. Jill and Dan it’s so great to see that you have dialed in on this site. Your dad was so special to everyone who’s life he ever touched. I happended to get to know him through church. My father was one of the pastor’s who ministered to them. l remember when he came home after calling on the family at their home in Miami
    Shores. At the time we were new to Miami and I hadn’t cultivated many friends yet and my dad was so excited to tell me about this young man he’d met and just knew we’d form a friendship. I contacted your dad; he invited me over and for the next two summers we had a ball together. If there’s anything I can tell you about your dad, it’s he had a wonderful heart, loved life and appreciated everything. He was a very special young man who no doubt carried those qualities into and through his adult years. I just wish I had stayed in closer touch with him. I’m so sorry for your loss. I would love to know as much about your dad as you would be willing to share with me.
    Take care.

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    • Hi all. I would love to continue to share memories. Are any of you on facebook? You can also contact me at gidge1421@aol.com. It really is a blessing to discover this tribute after all these years, especially as the anniversay of his death approaches. Thank you so much!

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  12. So many thoughtful comments and stories shared…you guys are great =) Here is a picture Laurie from 2007 of my dad and his favorite furry friend. As Jill stated, feel free to add us if you are on Facebook!

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  13. Thanks so much for sharing the picture. Would love to see more.
    All the best to your mom because I know have difficult it is to lose your best friend. I lost my wife in 2001 after 38 years. Tell her it gets better with time and for sure your dad would want her to get on with her life. I still have tough days and I think that will always be the case. For the most part however, the tears will be replaced with smiles of the wonderful times.

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  14. Agree, much thanks for sharing. Super looking dog. Stu with white hair…that’s a shock. It’s definitely him though. Obviously we all are saddened that he is gone but this site is very appreciated. I am sure he had a major impact on all of us. Dan..
    Carry On.

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  15. Hi All,

    To Jill, Dan and your Mom, I am saddened to learn of your Dad’s passing. He was a remarkable person and in a class all by himself. He must have been an incredible father and a very special husband. How you must miss him.

    Stuart Adcock was unforgettable. I am Lucie Lowen Sabella, Laurie Lowen’s younger sister. The first time I met Stu was as he screeched into our driveway in a blazing ’61 red stingray convertible with contrasting white paint in the side cove areas, to pick up my sister for a date.

    As I was drooling over his ride, he asked if I wanted to go for a spin and I was thrilled. We sped off, departing as lightning fast, as he had arrived.

    He headed straight for the old Naval Air Station, not far from our home in Ft. Lauderdale. (How he knew the WWII remnant was there, I have no idea.) Hidden from view, were abandoned criss-crossed, paved runways, now used by locals, with fast cars.

    The whine & shudder of the Vette’s fuel-injected 315 hp engine was exhilarating. I was mesmerized by Stu’s agility in gliding through the gears and his deft handling of his sportscar’s speed. He abruptly came to a complete stop and then decided to see how fast he could switch gears. We launched off like a rocket in 1st, then he slammed into 2nd with such fury and force that the gear shift lever and knob actually broke off in his hand. Without saying a word, he expertly maneuvered the corvette to a perfect stop at the end of the runway, jumped out, retrieved a long screwdriver from his tool kit and jammed it into the gear shift mechanism and off we went, Stu gleefully shifting, with a jury rigged-screw driver in the center console.

    He jubilantly deposited me back to our home and with that magical experience was born my passion for corvettes. Subsequently, noting my fascination with his car, Stu introduced me to his mechanics, Al & Joe at the Vette Center in Ft Laud.

    I worked & saved enough money to buy my first car, a ’65 Nassau blue, 327/365 hp, fuel-injected Corvette coupe. Stu taught me how to change the air filter and shine the chrome and of course, how to speed shift without ruining the gears!

    Stu was an extraordinary person, who had the gift of blessing others with his incredible zest for life. I am thankful that I had the good fortune to know him.

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    • Incredible story, Lucie, that so beautifully captures the essence of the “loud & fast” Stu as I remember him. And infused with the wonderful human compassion that was so evident in Stu, too!

      That recent picture you posted, Dan, made my eyes water. So human, so loving, so full of life.

      Thanks…

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  16. I recently received a group portrait of our Florida Presbyterian College tennis team, circa 1964, which I post here as an addendum. (Scroll up to see it.) I am upper left and Stu is in the lower right corner.

    Please feel free to right click and download it if you wish to keep it.

    Thanks…

    John Hayes

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  17. Hi guys! I’m posting this for Rod Lee. He worked with my father back at Tennessee Airways. Another great story and picture of Stu included on the cover of Commuter Air magazine.

    “Hi folks, some of you know me, I was Stu’s Director of Operations for about five years when he operated a couple of very successful Regional Airlines back in the 90s from offices at McGee Tyson Airport, Alcoa TN. High when quality passenger service and attention to detail, something we don’t see in commercial air travel now, helped establish a loyal customer base for “Tennessee Airways.”

    Part of the success was due to Stu’s piloting ability. And I say that based on my experience; at that time when we met in 1980 I had 35 years aviation experience, civilian, military, airline, with all sorts of pilots. He was high up in the 1% of anyone I had flown with and the only person I knew who could barefoot water ski. (And for those of you who remember his sense of humor, because he was a few years younger, he called me: “The Old Man.”)

    Finally, I know it is increasingly uncommon in today’s times but Stu couldn’t pass up a chance to help someone. His idea was to give everyone a shot to be successful, be they good old farm boys, teenage girls, or baggage handlers who dreamed to be pilots. He somehow made many of these folks into pilots and are now Captains with American, Delta, United, you name it; all without one accident. Just imagine that, hundreds of pilots, thousands of hours of flight time in all kinds of mid America weather, night, thunderstorms, ice, snow, wind sheer you name it, not one accident! With Stu there was no just Try, only Do!

    Maybe you can tell I feel honored and privileged to have worked with such an inspirational motivator as Stu. He will always be remembered.”

    Rod Lee

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  18. WOW, how wonderful to come across this! I don’t know how these postings/blogs/pages work, so I’m just doing “Reply” to this most recent post.

    Stu and I were friends growing up in Miami Shores, and graduated from Miami Edison. Lost touch with him in the years after that but then reacquainted when I tracked him down, with great effort, and with the aid of Chuck Queen a mutual classmate from Edison, in hopes of getting him to come to Atlanta for a 1944 birthday party we ’62 Edison graduates were throwing here. Unfortunately, was unable to convince him to come, but at a later date I did stop by in Campobello when I was returning from a trip to Virginia. It was great seeing him after all those years, and so very much enjoyed my visit with him and Joyce at their very special place there in the foothills of the Smoky Mts.

    When I’d spoken with Stu on the phone I’d mentioned to him that I’d never forgotten the beautiful red patent leather purse he’d given me at a birthday party I’d had in elementary school — such an exciting grown up gift for a little girl to get, and from such a handsome charming little boy too!!! Told him I was heartbroken when I realized I couldn’t find it after returning from a family vacation to Yosemite. While I was visiting he, very formally, presented me with a red leather coin purse, and said that he hoped I wouldn’t lose this one too! 🙂

    It was such a shock to hear of Stu’s sudden passing. I’d been so pleased to have found him again — we were staying in touch, and I was looking forward to another get-together in the near future. Stu Adcock was full of surprises — a very special guy, and I think of him often. A mutual friend, Charlie Allen, emailed me a photograph earlier today of himself with Stu and a couple of others taken around 1974. That’s what led me to goggle Stu, and I’m so glad I did since it led me here. I’ll try to get Charlie to this site so he can share the photo, and perhaps some of his memories of dear Stu as well. Carla Weesner Conrad

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    • Thanks for visiting and sharing your comments. I, too, had lost touch with Stu after school, but unlike you I never reconnected, so it was quite a shock to learn of his death. I’m pretty sure his family reads this so any pictures you can share would surely be welcome.

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