John Adams has a thing for purple octopuses, boats and the Gulf of Mexico. As vice president of planning at Rj Whidden and Associates, Adams and the Kissimmee firm have helped make the developers’ vision a reality on projects as varied as Margaritaville Resort, retirement community Solivita and the master-planned golf community, Harmony.
On most weekends and “often as possible” Adams can be found about 100 miles to the west at the family’s home at Hernando Beach - usually boating, sometimes fishing – “when we run out of fish in the freezer.” “It’s a small little sleepy fishing village,” Adams said. “Not too many people (know about it) - that’s why I like it. … Has a lot of canals with a direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Adams says he gets to the house as often as possible. “It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle. I take my computer and cell phone so I’m never too far from work.” Adams credits his friend Turner Wallis with finding the area – “years ago” when he was doing some reconnaissance for camping with the Boy Scouts – their sons were in the Scouts together.
“He fell in love with it,” Adams said of Wallis. “And I started visiting and I fell in love with it and decided to buy a place before I couldn’t afford one.”
That was about 14 years ago. Since then, his children have grown, he remarried – 11 years ago Friday June 7 to Jane – and is planning to build a “last home” on a lot in the same Hernando Beach area. Turner has the fishing boat and Adams said he has the party boat – a 28-foot Regal bow rider.
Between them, Jane and John have six children. All of whom Adams perks up with pride when he talks about – the two girls – one starting a wedding business, the other an English teacher; the stepson who is a chef in Charleston, S.C.; the youngest son in San Francisco; and the oldest son in Pittsburgh. Both sons were Eagle Scouts. And finally, their daughter Jodie Lee – who was killed in a car accident last year.
Jodie Lee was the youngest daughter at 26. She was a joy, Adams said. Jodie loved to travel and had taken up painting before she died. That’s where the purple octopus comes in. It was the last thing she painted and has become symbol of her life and her personality.
The Adams’ boat is named Jodie Lee and has a prominently displayed purple octopus sticker – a replica of Jodie’s painting.
“I was the one that talked him into trading in our old boat and getting a newer one,” said Jane Adams, who calls the beach house her husband’s happy place. “Since he was going to name (the boat) after the daughter we lost on July 4th, it of course had to be pretty.”
Recently, the Margaritaville Resort installed a mosaic of the purple octopus in its reflection garden, for which Adams helped get entitlements. There’s a plaque with Jodie’s name in the garden too, Jane Adams said.
There are purple-octopus stickers too – made by one of Jodie’s older sisters, John Adams said. “These stickers are being placed by friends and family all over the world as a way to take Jodie with us on our travels.”
Those who have the stickers upload pictures of them with the location via #alwaysjla – in honor of Jodie and her love of travel.
“I am really proud of my daughter and the short life she lived. She meant a lot to a lot of people,” John Adams said. “She was a special little girl. My baby girl.”