âmes-soeurs ... soul-mates

Rick Adams is passionate … about his life, his lady, his grandkids and daughter, his work as an aviation communicator, and golf.

Who would have thought a kid from the south side of Johnson City, a little village near upstate New York’s border with Pennsylvania, would end up in Switzerland and Argelès sur Mer, a little village near France’s border with Spain?

The path wasn’t direct, by any means. It routed briefly through Champaign, Illinois; Syracuse, New York; and Greenville, South Carolina while earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Then a 20-year sojourn in hot-hot Dallas, Texas, where jobs were more plentiful and he could play golf year-round.

Yet it was in the middle of America and the middle of Europe that his life changed. In Missouri, he met Donna-Lane at a conference by a lake. In Geneva, 34 years later, he reconnected with her … while at a conference by a lake.

Rick grew up in an IBM family. His late father was a design engineer for the company for more than 40 years. His mother rode herd on Rick, his three brothers, and a foster brother.

For Rick, the best aspect of the IBM connection was the two golf courses for employees and their families. When Rick was 14, he entered his first golf tournament – and won his age group by five shots. After that, he virtually lived on the golf course every day it was open (and some it was not). At 16, he won the prestigious International Future Masters near Buffalo, New York, and spent the next couple of years traveling to events around the U.S. His success won him a golf scholarship to the University of Illinois.

He planned to study communications at the U of I because during his senior year in high school he worked as a sports reporter and editor for the Binghamton Sun-Bulletin daily newspaper. But the Illinois comms program was not available the first two years, so Rick transferred to one of the top journalism schools in the country, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. He earned dual degrees in magazine journalism and history. He also played golf there; his coach was Jim Boeheim, who went on to fame as SU’s NCAA championship basketball coach.

In South Carolina, Rick edited BJU’s new magazine and high school textbooks, developed a communications curriculum and taught freshman rhetoric, and played a lot of tennis because there were no golf courses near campus. He even started a faculty/staff tennis league.

Rick’s daughter, Alicia, was born in Carolina in 1976. The following year, they moved back to upstate New York so Alicia could grow up around the extended family.

At the time, credit union marketing was growing rapidly, and the IBM Federal Credit Union in Endicott hired Rick as their first communications director. The credit union was one of the leading innovators in the nation (now the $3.5Billion Visions FCU) – one of the first to offer automated teller machines, mortgages, and other financial services previously only available from banks. Rick’s marketing campaigns caught the attention of a California-based agency which specialized in credit union marketing, and they recruited Rick to launch an Eastern office. In the first year, he more than doubled their sales objectives.

The partnership in the Western home office, meantime, was breaking up. So Rick hung out his own shingle. Within six months, Rick’s new agency won the Best of Show award at the Credit Union Executives Society’s annual marketing conference in San Francisco. (At that conference, both Rick and Donna-Lane were speakers on the program.)

In the mid-80s, Rick’s agency started doing some contract work for Singer-Link Flight Simulation. When they had an opening in their marketing department, they invited Rick to join their staff.

Rick learned, at that point, that aviation was in his DNA. His great uncle, from whom he gets the name Richard, was a pioneering aviator in the 1920s and 30s. Richard Bennett was a contemporary of Charles Lindbergh, and started the first airport in Binghamton, New York. Rick fell in love with the aviation and simulation business, and has been involved in it either as a corporate communicator or journalist for the past 35 years.

Unfortunately, Singer was taken over by a corporate raider, broken up and its pieces sold, and went into steady decline. In 1994, within a two-week span, Alicia received a scholarship offer to attend SMU in Dallas and Rick received a job offer near Dallas with a company that was soon acquired by Raytheon. A few years later he shifted into telecommunications with Marconi Communications, then Nortel Networks, but continued to keep his hand in aviation part-time as technology editor for two simulation magazines published by Halldale Media. He also played some golf tournaments as a professional, well enough to qualify for the regional tour championship.

Rick’s grandchildren are two of the great joys in his life. His grandson, Sawyer, is an accomplished stage and film actor at 14 years old. He also likes golf. Rick’s granddaughter, Georgia Rose, is constant motion, precocious, adorably cute, and also a professional actor - winning the Best Actress award over adult women in a major independent film festival.

In 2009, Rick was recruited to lead civil aviation communications for Montreal-based flight simulation leader CAE. After living in Canada for part of the first year, he based in Texas and traveled extensively.

In 2012, he learned Donna-Lane was in Switzerland. He sent her a message via LinkedIn, she responded, they had dinner, and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history. Or in their case, a new future.

At first they thought they’d see each other a few times a year whenever Rick traveled to Europe on business. But it became quickly apparent how much they loved each other, and Rick decided he had to be with D-L as much as possible. So he left the corporate world, became a freelance writer and consultant, and moved to Argelès sur Mer to start their new life together.

He is now Editor of Halldale Group's Military Simulation & Training magazine, as well as ICAO Journal, the official magazine of the International Civil Aviation Organization - the United Nations' aviation agency, and a regular contributor to other aviation publications.  He divides his time between Geneva, Argelès, allas, Johnson City, and wherever major aviation events are being held.

Rick quickly located the nearest golf courses in Geneva and the south of France. (In 2017, he played the holy grail of golf, the Old Course at Saint Andrews, after queuing for 7 hours in the cold and rain.) He plans to take flying lessons at the local aero club. And, of course, is learning to speak French. He also started a blog (http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.ch/) to chronicle his experiences in Europe.

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