Donald F. Adams

September 25, 1935 - December 22, 2022
Donald F. Adams

Dr. Donald F. Adams, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wyoming and President of Wyoming Test Fixtures, Inc. Salt Lake City, passed away at his Millcreek home of complications from COVID-19. 

Donald was born September 25, 1935, in Streator, Illinois, the oldest of three children to Margaret and Fred Adams. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1957, and married his hometown sweetheart Roberta Rush on June 22, 1957, at Immaculate Conception Church in Streator, Illinois. The newlyweds moved to Southern California where Don worked as an engineer at Northrop Aircraft Corporation in Hawthorne. While working he also attended the University of Southern California, and received his Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1960. Donald and Roberta then returned to Champagne, Illinois, with their two children David and Daniel, where he received his Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois in 1963. After graduating, the family moved back to Newport Beach, California, where Don worked at the Aeronutronic Division of Ford Motor Company for four years. They moved up the California coast to Malibu in 1967 when Don joined the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. During this second stay in Southern California, the family expanded with the birth of Douglas and Jayne.

In 1972, Don joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wyoming, and the family moved from Malibu, California, to Laramie, Wyoming. Don started the Composite Materials Research Group (CMRG) shortly after his arrival, and served as its director for 27 years. During those years, he led an interdisciplinary group of students, staff, and faculty researchers in a broad range of government and industry research programs. He greatly enjoyed working with both undergraduate and graduate students, and mentored over 160 students while at the University. In 1988, Don started Wyoming Test Fixtures Inc., an engineering business specializing in the design and fabrication of mechanical test fixtures for the composite materials community, which he worked at until his passing. He and Roberta were both avid supporters of both the cultural affairs and athletics at the University of Wyoming. He also became an avid fisherman, and spent many summer evenings on the lakes of the high plains and in the Snowy Range west of Laramie catching trout for tasty dinners.

Upon retirement from the University of Wyoming, Don and Roberta moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to be closer to family.  Roberta passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2011. Don was given the gift of a second love and married Valerie Moenich on May 19, 2018. They enjoyed many years of the opera, concerts, the ballet and traveling the world.  They especially enjoyed cruises to Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Mexico and Germany.  Often the highlight of their week was Sunday dinner at the home of Valerie’s daughter, Christine, and her spouse George and Grandson August who fed their body and soul.

Don is survived by his wife Valerie, children Dan (Cate) Adams of Salt Lake City, Doug (Bridget) Adams of Denver, Colorado, and Jayne Adams (Gary) of Cheyenne, Wyoming; grandchildren Annie (Tom), Cassie (Brandon), Adam (Becca), Brian (Alex), Elena, and Jack.  His step-grandchildren are Amalia, August and Step-daughter Christine( George) Salt Lake City. His great-grandson is Beckham. He was preceded in death by his wife Roberta Rush Adams and his oldest son the Reverend David A. Adams.

Don lived a prosperous life and was a believer in giving back, as witnessed by his generosity and philanthropy. Among his favorite charities were his Catholic parishes, the Laramie Plains Museum, and the Salvation Army.

In lieu of flowers, please be a philanthropist by donating to your favorite charity in his honor.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, at 11 a.m. at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 2315 Redondo Avenue, Salt Lake City. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the church.