The Women of Adams
This year being a special one for us, we thought for Mother’s Day a most fitting tribute would be to highlight the amazing women behind the business: the mothers in the Adams family, all of whom have played an important part in our history.
First is the true matron of the family, Mary Rogers Adams. She was the mother of Diana, Dorothy, Ralph R. and Donald but also Ralph A. Adams’ partner in all things, including the business. It was through her support and the active role she played in creating the farm as a business that Ralph was able to grow it as quickly and successfully as he did. Not only did she work alongside him, but her attention to customers helped build a personal connection and added to the warmth our stores are still known for today, one hundred years later. Growing the business did not deter her from the important job of raising a family, four incredible children who had a huge impact both inside and out of the family business. Although most are very familiar with her sons Ralph and Don and their obvious part in the company, there’s no denying their sisters also contributed.
Diana, the eldest child, shared that Mary was an excellent cook, preparing with great care fresh meals for her family every day with much of what she served coming from the literal fruits of their labor. This undoubtedly set the stage for the emphasis on fresh food we maintain today in each of our stores, a marriage of farm freshness, attention to quality and, of course, flavor. Diana fondly recalled her mother’s stews.
Mary also instilled in each of her children a certain confidence, another asset to the company. Diana believed that, through that confidence, they were able to take the necessary steps to grow the business. She went on to say “Every step took a lot of courage. They had no example to follow; there was nothing like it at the time.” This is a lasting testament to a mother’s love, care and encouragement.
Although they had big shoes to fill, the next generation of mothers certainly lived up to those expectations. In 1948, Ralph married Doris King and Don married Dale Shorter in 1958. In doing so, they each brought a new perspective and new skills to the family. Much like Mary, Doris and Dale became very familiar with many of the customers and certainly supported their husbands every step of the way. Doris’s children – Mark, John, Mary and Annie – all worked in the family business when young and some went on to do so. John hand lettered the signs and worked with his father in Produce, Annie, with her husband Scott Croft, would open The Chocolate Goose (the first sweet shop, now the site of Adams Café) and Mark Adams Greenhouses are the primary provider for most of the plants the company sells. Doris was a member of several local garden clubs, further fueling the love of growing things.
Dale is mother to Terry Adams, Liz Wise, Pat Adams, Kathy Wise and Steve Adams. Pat, Steve and Kathy currently hold leadership roles in the company, while Terry and Liz have successful careers outside of the business. Dale will always be known for her great sense of humor and kind heart, both of which she has passed down to her children. Like Mary, Dale is also a good cook and extremely involved in the community. She spent much of her time volunteering, furthering the Adams’ commitment to giving back to those who have shown so much support in return.
As for the original Adams daughters, Diana was a fantastic mother in her own right. She raised four men: Tim, Dave, Michael and Peter Augello. Despite Tim and Michael’s passing over the last ten years, their mark on the company is undeniable and enduring. Most notably, Mike Augello was construction manager for the building of our three newest store locations.
Diana took an interest in the business at a young age. By age twelve she was organizing product to its best advantage. Her keen eye for merchandising led to a successful marketing career as vice president of the New York firm Ruder and Finn. Prior to that she worked with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II in London and Paris. An impressive and ambitious woman if ever there was one!
Dorothy was well known as the beauty of the family and won many local pageants and was even crowned Hudson Valley Harvest Apple Blossom Queen in the 1940s. She would go on to work very successfully in the fashion industry, eventually returning to her roots, working in our Cheese Shop. Although she never had children she was a loving and, in every way, lovely soul and “mother” to many beloved animals throughout her life.
We would be remiss not to mention the latest generation of Adams mothers: Barbara Adams, Kathy Wise, Liz Wise, Jen Adams and Sue Adams. Each of these strong women have raised the latest generation of leaders for the company, while Becky and Angela are busy with the youngest of the family. There’s little doubt that such a long, loving line of women will continue to leave a special mark on Adams for many generations to come, as only mothers can, with what they teach us and all they give.
From our family to yours: Happy Mother’s Day!