In loving memory of Jean (Geno) Marvin Adams
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Jean Adams, 84, a Korean War veteran who was an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman with a passion for the outdoors and wildlife, passed away on Monday, December 3rd, 2018 at the Bridges Nursing Home in Appleton, Wisconsin
Jean was born on March 3rd, 1934 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a son of the late Arthur and Mathilda (Pesch) Adams. Although born in Oshkosh, he was transplanted to Iola (his father’s hometown) at the age of eight where he lived a life not unlike Huckleberry Finn’s, wild, free and filled with many grand adventures and experiences -- like curiously walking under the legs of the world’s tallest man, Clifford Thompson (8ft, 7in. tall) who just happened to reside in the little town of Iola; or naively running all over town, after being sent on a wild goose chase by his father, searching the local stores for a lumber stretcher, not knowing all the merchants were in cahoots with his dad and in on the game; or blowing chunks of rock out of the Mill Street Bridge with stolen blasting caps, then spending the next month picking shrapnel out of the back of his own neck; or on a moon light requisition run of the neighbor’s perfectly ripe, hard earned, garden produce; or participating in a Halloween night prank consisting of driving a fully loaded and blasting manure spreader down the main street of Iola. It would be unsurprising that with all the mischief he got into in that town that the local school officials were probably waiting with bated breath to see him actually graduate from Iola High School, and then probably performed a group jig when he promptly left town to join the military.
As far as Jean’s military career goes and for legal reasons, (the US government never forgets) we won’t go into great detail about why there is an old 1950 Ford Mercury with bullet holes in the trunk, with an illegally sourced engine and stolen license plates, resting at the bottom of a quarry outside of the Air Force base in Bordeaux France; or, why as legend has it Jean’s autographed picture still hangs in many of the brothels in said province.
After returning from the Korean War and working several short-lived jobs and an even shorter stint in college at UW Stevens Point, Jean met Colleen Rice after barking at her at the roller rink in Manawa; yes, I said he barked at her and only God knows why but somehow that worked. This led them to embark, no pun intended, on a crazy love-hate journey that spanned the next 50 years, up until Colleen’s death at age 65. It involved multiple marriages, divorces and re-marriages and more divorces to the same red headed spitfire he married in 1960. They eventually moved their on-going argument to Neenah, WI and somewhere in between the fighting they managed to produce 4 children to join their little family circus they lovingly referred to as the Adams Family. All four offspring provided karmic revenge by simultaneously humoring but mostly aggravating Jean on a regularly scheduled basis, up until and long after each of them left home. Jean continued to begrudgingly work for the Kimberly Clark Corporation for 35 years where, somehow, he managed to stay employed. I guess that wasn’t all that surprising to those of us who knew that his super power was coming up with new and inventive excuses to call in sick, yet still remain employed through the use of diabolical charm and trickery. Like many mid-western mill workers, Jean survived the monotony of mill life by swapping filthy jokes, old stories, and masterminding elaborate pranks to pull on some of his more naïve and unsuspecting co-workers. Like the time one of the floor managers got a call from the phone company explaining that there was a problem in the lines that required her assistance which entailed her finding a plastic bag to wrap the phone in, then standing back safely while they remotely blew the dust out of the lines. She fell for it while half the mill watched through an office window as she diligently performed all the requested tasks.
The Lakeview Mill is where Geno met his dear friend Jenny Schmidli. After dealing with the irascible hot head known as Colleen for so many years, Jenny provided a quiet, companionable friendship, faithfully remaining by Jean’s side up until the day he died.
The Mill is also where he met his future illegitimate son Roger Peterson and took him under a protective wing. Even know they are not biologically related Roger still refers to him as Dad.
Jean spent most of his free time planning the next year’s north woods deer hunt, fishing tournament and trapping excursions. Spending countless hours with his head down and glasses off, scanning topographical maps, plotting points in his little black book of secrets, tying flies, boiling traps, restringing fishing reels, and polishing his guns. Many life-long friendships were forged during those week-long stays in the various cabins of Northern Wisconsin. After a long day of hunting, imagine a bunch of guys sitting around smoking cigars and playing cards. It’s funny how well the guys would eat considering they all had wives that were completely unaware that their husbands could even cook yet they would suddenly and magically be competing over which of them had the best hassenpfeffer or duck a l'orange recipe. Then later on as they were turning in for the night, the farting and snoring contests would begin. It’s a wonder any of them ever caught or shot anything as sleep deprived and hungover as they must have been every morning.
Jean spent many an hour practicing with his guitar which he learned how to play while serving in the military. He became accomplished with both flat picking and individual finger style. He was self-taught and liked to emulate his favorite musicians, Chet Atkins and Les Paul. His children enjoyed listening to him pick songs in the evenings especially when he would play some of the more colorful and funny tunes for the benefit of his young audience.
Jean’s interests extended to inventions! He liked to invent or make improvements on every day gadgets that he thought would make his life easier. This would generally involve enlisting the aid of his shop friends to machine odd parts for his projects and then to conduct dry run experiments ranging from inflating river rafts in the middle of the living room, to testing out various nasty smells from cod liver oil to fox piss----and much to the consternation of his on again off again wife -- filling the bath tubs with live fish, experimenting with different mixtures of smelly dirt for his worms, and placing unspeakable frozen things in the freezer. One of his projects did amount to something once. He invented a gun site that fit on a vaulted shot gun barrel for which he applied for and obtained multiple patents. He even started a successful company with great promise called Accura-Site; but sadly, the board of directors launched a hostile takeover and after 7 years of court battles the company was dismantled. He was cursed with having to continue humbly toiling away for the Kimberly Clark Corporation.
Another favorite past time of the common mill rat was patronizing the local taverns and pizza joints after the C shift. One of Jean’s dearest friends and co-conspirators was the infamous proprietor of Lord Rumbottoms Bar (Bob Immekus), located next to the Lake View Mill. Many an evening would see the two of them out back shooting at watermelons with Jean’s new toy, “The Judge” which for those of you who aren’t aware of, is a five-shot revolver chambered for .410 bore shot shells and the .45 Colt cartridge. Its motto is “for when the burglar hides behind the refrigerator……….at your neighbor’s house.” The result is a deafening boom followed by the utter destruction of the target and sometimes anything in the general vicinity of the intended target. By the time the cops would arrive everyone would have scattered and there would be nothing left of the evidence but a spray of pink mist and lots of ants where once there was a watermelon.
After retiring, Jean embarked on many more adventures including driving all the way to Alaska with his little black cat, named Willie -- aka hemorrhoid, sitting on his head most of the way. He spent a full year in Alaska happily exploring every nook and cranny of that majestic terrain and spreading wide and far his particular flavor of Wisconsin redneck cheer.
Jean (Geno) is survived by his beloved cat Umpa, four children, Jeff (Smurd or Snarve) Adams (Suzy), Michelle (Dootz) Adams, Paul (flipper foot) Adams (Pam), and Julie (The Squeeg) Adams (Bob); and his dear friend and faithful companion, Jenny (Poo) Schmidli and brother-from-another-mother Bob (Fred) Immekus (who had his own name for Jean -- Arnie) and illegally adopted son and daughter Roger Peterson and Laura Lattimer.
He is also survived by three grandchildren, and by many special friends too numerous to name. You know who you are……….!
Jean was preceded in death by his parents, his (wife/ex-wife/wife/ex-wife/wife/ex-wife still living together and still fighting for nine years while divorced) - Colleen Rice-Ireland, two brothers, David Adams and Byron Adams, as well as his sister Donna Adams.
There were also, a plethora of close friends taken to soon like Johnny Stoltenberg, Milos Osika, Jack Holzworth, Al Lamb and Russ Johnson. And a lifetime precession of furry friends with names like Wimpy, Trixie, Sam, Sarge, Teddy Bear, Chipper, Simon, Elsa, Fred, and Willie.
Jean’s family would like to thank his many friends and neighbors, for their friendship with Geno and their kind support while watching out for him in his final years. He fondly reminisced about good friends, good drinks, and good times at the many taverns throughout the Fox Valley and north woods of Wisconsin.
Special thanks to Ginny Frank and Almost Home Kitty Rescue for their mission of placing special furry little angels into the arms of the elderly who benefit greatly from their companionship during their twilight years. Umpa, now with the Almost Home Kitty Rescue, has been a godsend.
Tremendous heartfelt thanks go to all the truly compassionate and exceptional CNAs, Nurses, PT and Hospice folks at The Bridges of Appleton, who not only provided comfort for Geno but also a sense of humor, gracious patience, peace, and tranquility during his transition from this life into the next.
Dilly Dilly Old Coot