Donald Adams Obituary


Dr. Donald F. Adams, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wyoming and President of Wyoming Test Fixtures, Inc. Salt Lake City, passed away at his Millcreek home of complications from COVID-19. Don is survived by his wife, Valerie Moenich, children Dan (Cate) Salt Lake City, Doug (Bridget) Denver, CO, and Jayne (Gary) Cheyenne, WY, and step-daughter Christine (George) of Salt Lake City. Preceded in death by his first wife, Roberta and oldest son, Reverend David A. Adams.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 11:00am at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 2315 Redondo Avenue, Salt Lake City. A Visitation will begin at 9:30 am at the church. Arrangements are entrusted to Starks Funeral Parlor. Please share your memories with his family and view an extended obituary at

Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from Dec. 22 to Dec. 27, 2022.
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Don was a key influence in my career as an engineer. In 1979 I graduated with a BSME from the University of Idaho. I didn´t like any of the jobs offered. My dream was to design skis or tennis racquets. I had a strong interest in composite materials and during my interview with Hercules Aerospace, they recommended I consider graduate school at the University of Wyoming. I called Don Adams and he accepted me over the phone. My GPA wasn´t that good, but Wyoming needed grad students. I flew out to Laramie and in one day, enrolled in the program at the Composite Materials Research Group, headed up by Don Adams as part of the Mechanical Engineering Department. I also rented an apartment and was on a plane back to Idaho to gather my stuff.
Don Adams promised me I could do my masters thesis on anything I wanted. He encouraged me to reach out to industry and I was able to get K2 Ski Company to sponsor my research. Don Adams was a great mentor to me. I didn´t know much about composite materials, and in the next 2 years I learned a considerable amount. Don encouraged me to have lofty goals and he supported everything I needed.
I was finishing up my thesis, approaching the 2 year mark, when Don Adams came by my desk and dropped of the want ads from the Rocky Mountain News. Advertised was a job for a design engineer for Head Tennis Racquets. They wanted someone with a background in composites and tennis experience. Don said, “It looks like this is your job. I suggest you apply.” I basically ran the application up there and was hired.
Don Adams opened doors for me. He provided the calm demeanor and quiet confidence that helped me believe in myself. He was always available to guide and mentor. I entered grad school as post-college athlete, and had to “wake up” real fast to the high standards required by Don Adams and the University of Wyoming. Now, 40 years later, I have enjoyed a career designing tennis racquets and I owe it all to Don Adams.

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Steve Davis
February 13, 2023

Donald Adams Obituary

The Zaffran Clan
December 28, 2022

I met Don through a company I worked for. And a few years later I started my own company. I tried to get some work from him for a while. He finally gave me chance. I been doing work for Don for 30 years. He was the kindest man I known. He was my mentor and friend. I can´t thank him enough for all the great conversation we had discussing the fixture we were making. When I would deliver the fixtures to him. Don and Roberta would ask me to stay for lunch and get to know each other. It been a privilege to work with Don for over 30 yrs. Don will be in my heart forever.

Dan Wilson Wilson Machining
December 28, 2022

Donald Adams Obituary

Becky Pekarek
December 26, 2022

More than 33 years ago, Don paid for my $20 application fee to the University of Wyoming, since I didn´t have that money as a young student in China. I spent my first four years in the US in Laramie, Wyoming, and got my Ph.D. from Don in 1994. That was a transformational period of my life. I learned to speak English and adjusted to the US culture and life. Working as a graduate assistant in Don´s Composite Material Research Group, he inspired my curiosity in composite technology that helped set my future career path. After 33 years, I am still working in the technology areas that Don educated me in and guided me through. I am proud of the work I do on jet engines that lift people up and bring them home safely, and I hope Don was proud too of this student.

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I last saw Don in a SAMPE conference and we had breakfast together. He said he was my professor and should pay for the meal. I got to pay for it after I said to him I never had a chance to give him anything back. Even though I never see Don again after that breakfast, I get to see some Wyoming Test Fixtures wood boxes every time I visit our material test labs. Those wood boxes keep reminding me what a wonderful professor he was, what a brilliant researcher he was, and what a great gentleman he was.

Rest in peace, Dr. Adams. You will be in my memory forever.

December 26, 2022

Donald Adams Obituary

Ming, Sarmah, Eugene, Chaitra
December 23, 2022

Don Adams was one of the most honorable men I have ever known. He always hoped to invest his time, insight and assistance where he could most help make a difference in a community. Laramie, Wyoming’s history preservation was generously gifted by his gracious insight and care. Don truly left the world a better place because he lived. We will miss this smart, good man in so many ways.