Donald L. Adkins

By on April 16, 2009

Donald L. Adkins, 85, passed away peacefully in his home on Tuesday, April 7, 2009, cared for by his loving family during his final weeks.

Don was born Aug. 6, 1923, in Elgin, the only child of Ruth Hollingsworth and Donald Adkins. He was raised by his lovely and loving grandmother, Tena Hollingsworth. Don was preceded in death by his parents and his grandmother; his son, Gerard Joseph, in 1954, and by his stepmother of 64 years, Loretta Adkins, in 2001.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Barbara; his children, Catherine (Rick) Ruehe of Virginia Beach, Va., Charles Donald (Marianne Linn) of San Francisco, Calif., William Francis (Mary Ellen) of Geneva; and his grandchildren, Emily (Andrew) Ruehe Puckett and Eric Ruehe.

During WWII, Don served as a meteorologist and studied at the University of Iowa, Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago. Wherever he was stationed, he was called upon each week to play his saxophone and clarinet wherever music was needed, as he had done up and down the Fox Valley during his high school years.

When he was discharged after the war ended, he attended Illinois State University, where he continued with his music as a member of the Blackfriars. He graduated from ISU in June 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and did graduate work at the University of Chicago and Northern Illinois University, where he earned advanced degrees in administration and in guidance. Don also served in several leadership roles in the Phi Delta Kappa educational fraternity.

Don spent his career in education at Mooseheart, starting as a fifth-grade teacher in 1951 and retiring as the director of education 40 years later. He was respected and loved by his colleagues and students. He was a kindhearted and generous man who invested himself in people and their education. He was a counselor, mentor and friend. During his lifetime, he guided and counseled many, many people, both children and adults, in their educational and life choices. He had an immeasurable impact upon all whom he met.

He was a kind and compassionate man. He could quell anger with a few words. He would skillfully redirect misunderstandings toward a quiet path of reflection, leading to peaceful resolution of the problem. He was always able to suggest a new thought, adding an element of peaceful contemplation to any tumbling cauldron of unrest.

One of Don’s most memorable qualities was his humor. He loved to be around people. No matter when or where you met him, he always had a smile and a genuine interest in you. He brought people together. He enjoyed conversation, often displaying his quick wit, good humor and memorable laugh. He made others happy and always left a lasting impression, and he certainly left one on all of us. We will miss him dearly.

Visitation was held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 12, at Healy Chapel, 370 W. Division Drive, Sugar Grove. A funeral mass was held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, April 13, 2009, at St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church, 750 W. Old Indian Trail, Aurora. Gifts may be sent to Mooseheart Alumni or to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Chicago. Interment will take place at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.

For more information please call (630) 466-1330 or visit our website to leave a condolence at