Tampa Bay, FL — On March 20, 2017, as reveille sounded at Army installations up and down the East Coast, Brigadier General (Retired) Charles “Ron” Adams passed quietly with his loving wife of over 19 years, Bernadette “Bernie”, at his side.
Born New Year’s Day 1935, in Three Forks, MT., Ron was the first of three boys born to Charles “Chuck” and Winifred “Winnie”. He graduated from Three Forks High School in 1953. Ron attended Montana State College for two years before a career in the military caught his attention, a decision that would define the rest of his life.
Ron joined the 82nd Airborne Division in January of 1956, and then became a member of the Montana Army National Guard in December of 1958. He completed Officer Candidate School in October of 1959, and completed his bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Western Montana College. He taught 7th and 8th grade math and science at Parkview School in Dillon, MT., during the 1962-63 school year. He resigned this position to attend military service schools as a member of the Montana Army National Guard.
As a newly minted 1st Lieutenant, Ron completed Artillery and Missile School (1962), Armor School (1964), Fixed-wing flight school (1964), and rotary-wing (helicopter) flight school (1966). In between service schools, Ron returned to teaching, this time in his hometown of Three Forks for the 1965-66 school year.
Ron served in numerous positions of leadership and responsibility throughout his military career, highlights of which include Troop Commander of Troop N (Air) of the 163rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; Commander of 2nd Squadron, 163rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; and Director of Plans, Operations, Training and Military Support, HQ Montana Army National Guard.
As a result of his leadership ability, Ron was selected throughout his career to continue his military leadership education. He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff Course (1971), the Armor School Staff Officer Course (1973), the Armed Forces Staff College (1976), and the U.S. Army War College (1981).
The apex of Ron’s military career would be to command the newly formed 3,300 strong 163rd Armored Brigade (Heavy) (Separate) beginning in September of 1988. In 1989, Ron achieved the rank of Brigadier General, and from that day forward he would be fondly referred to as “The General” by family and friends. After 37 years of service, Ron hung up his spurs and retired in February of 1993. Ron joined as a private and retired as a general. This was an uncommon accomplishment that didn’t go unnoticed, as he was inducted into the Ft. Benning Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in June of 1991.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device, Army Service Ribbon, Master Army Aviation Badge and Novice Parachutist Badge.
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In retirement, Ron continued to have a positive influence on young people. While living outside Washington D.C., he volunteered at an inner city school. He was assigned to a sixth-grade class working with students that were struggling in math. For his volunteer spirit, Ron received many awards from Fairfax County, VA., The most notable recognition came from General (Retired) Colin Powell, who personally awarded Ron with a Shining Star Award for his volunteer work. This recognition from such a notable individual and organization meant so much to Ron, and was one of the highlights of his life.
When he and Bernie retired to the Tampa Bay area, Ron spent many hours out on the golf course with his friends and family. The community had many entertaining tales about his regular golf trio of Shaky, Shorty and Lefty. In addition, Ron became an active member of BPOE (Elks) Lodge. He was a past member of Rotary Club, Jaycees, the American Legion, the Montana National Guard Association and the Montana Education Association. Ron was also a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of the United States, the Military Officers Association of America, and NRA.
The General accomplished many noteworthy undertakings in his personal and professional life, but his greatest joy was his six sons and two daughters. He taught them all how to have a sense of humor, to have pride in what they do, work hard and always give it your best. When grandkids came along, The General earned another title: Grandpa Dude. He cherished that title and adored all his grandkids, spoiling each one any chance he got.
One thing The General didn’t pass along to his kids was his carpentry skills. You see, The General couldn’t cut a straight line on a 2x4 if his life depended on it. And in hindsight, we’re fine with that because he gave us so much more.
Ron is survived by his wife, Bernie Bernier-Adams of Seminole, FL; brother, Larry Adams of Eugene, OR., his sons Brad Bernier, Brian Bernier, Jim Adams of Salem, OR., Tom (Jamie) Adams of Richmond, VA., Tom (Carol) Knight of Helena, MT., Scott (Haydee) Adams of Groton, MA., his daughters, Lauri (Scott) Sax of Richland, WA., Traci (Rob) Bako of Richmond, VA. Also surviving are 13 grandchildren & 2 great grandchildren. Ron was preceded in death by his parents, and his brother, Garry Adams.
General Adams will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA., at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, Ron’s family asks that you consider donating to his favorite cause: Fisher House Foundation, 111 Rockville Pike, Ste. 420, Rockville, MD., 20850; or fisherhouse.org. You may also donate to a charity of your choice.