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Assistant to the Publisher
Susan Burgess, Donna Crary,
Pattie Durham, Greg Gardner,
Ellen Gillette, Janie Gould,
Catherine Enns Grigas,
Debra Magrann, Angel McClellan,
Willi Miller, Alison O'Leary,
Julie Tarasovic, Christina Tascon,
Sandra Thurlow, Jean Wilson
Robert Adams, Ed Drondoski,
Pattie Durham, Gaettane A. Paul
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A TREASURE TO READ
Snapshots of a lifetime of friendships
If you grew up on the Treasure Coast in the last 80 years you knew the
name Alto Adams.
Alto Adams Sr. was a Florida Supreme Court justice who hailed
from Fort Pierce.
His son, Alto “Bud’’ Adams Jr., was one of the largest landowners
in the state. Starting with a smaller ranch that his father purchased
in 1937, Bud grew the enterprise to the 50,000-acre outfit it is today,
operating from its home base in St. Lucie County with other ranches in
Okeechobee, Osceola and Walton counties.
Both Adamses loomed larger than life in my childhood. Alto Sr. had
homes on the ranch and on Indian River Drive, and you could often see
him coming and going in his Rolls Royce, the only one in Fort Pierce.
Alto Jr., known as Bud, lived full time on the ranch and drove SUVs or
more modest sedans. He and his beautiful wife, Dot, and their three sons,
Lee, Mike and Robbie, were always one of the best-looking ranch units in
the annual Sandy Shoes Parade.
When Bud, whose photography has been featured in every issue of
this magazine since we started in 2006, died Sept. 22, memories of him
and his remarkable family gushed into my mind as we put together the
special tribute section in this edition.
My family’s friendships with the Adamses go back to shortly after
Alto Sr. arrived in town as a young lawyer in the 1920s. My dad, who grew up in a citrus grove at 11
Mile Creek, and Bud were just a year apart and both shared a love and deep knowledge of nature. Bud
became a rancher and my dad became the editor of the local paper, The Fort Pierce News-Tribune.
My dad spent a lot of my early childhood years cowboying on his days off out at Cow Creek Ranch,
which adjoined the Adams Ranch. The owners of Cow Creek, his friends T.L. and Joann Sloan, gave him
free range of the ranch and he often hunted there. After the Sloans sold Cow Creek in the mid-1970s,
Bud invited dad to set up camp at Adams Ranch in a beautiful oak, palmetto and pine thicket called
My dad was happiest when he was at Punkin Hammock. He used to call the key he had to get into
the ranch’s gate “the key to heaven.’’ He put it through a piece of green nylon string and often wore it
around his neck when he was at the ranch.
While I was off at college, he and my brothers dug a well and erected a modest cabin — really a
screened-in shed. But it did the job and kept the mosquitos and rain out.
Bud would often drop by Punkin Hammock — he pretty much made daily rounds at the ranch —
and my dad would sometimes ride around the ranch with him. He’d often relay what Bud had told him
— that the Everglades kite was making a comeback; or that a new type of clover was popular with the
cattle. He always had his camera.
I visited the camp often and one of my favorite pastimes was bass fishing in the ranch’s canals. Bud
happened to drive by one Sunday morning when I caught a rather large big mouth bass. “That’s about
as a big a bass as I’ve seen out here,’’ he told me. He snapped a shot, and today I think the print resides
in a box in my attic. I boasted about the compliment he gave me for years. Still do.
One Sunday morning when I was written up in the paper for receiving a writing award while I was a
reporter at The News-Tribune he stopped by the hammock to congratulate me, and I’ve often wondered if
he drove out to the hammock just to do that. He was happy that our family was doing well.
When I moved to the west coast of Florida a few months later, I’d still go out to the ranch when visiting
home. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer and the time spent out there was more meaningful
than ever. When dad died in 1990, Bud allowed us to spread his ashes in Punkin Hammock. With
sunlight dappling through the oaks, funeral director Bill Yates, a fellow hunter and a friend of dad’s and
Bud’s, sprinkled the ashes along any deer trails he could find. It was the most beautiful service I’ve ever
I lived away from the Treasure Coast for another 15 years and didn’t return to Adams Ranch until I
started this magazine 11 years ago. Bud was one of the first people I called on. I asked him if we could
feature his photography in our magazine. He said he’d help me in anyway he could and offered up the
assistance of his son, Robbie. It was a big boost to my confidence and made me optimistic that my idea
of putting out a magazine that would reflect the region’s beauty would succeed. We’ve featured his
photos in all 55 issues of the magazine published since that day.
When I last saw Bud a few months back, he called me to the side and he reminded me of the importance
of preserving the land for generations to come. As he knew his time was near, he also mailed me
a letter — I’m sure he mailed many others — that traced our family’s friendships and touched on his
desires for the future.
I don’t know if you can ever adequately summarize a life such
as Bud Adams’, but I think Rick Crary did a pretty good job in our
tribute to him starting on Page 12. I hope it gives you a sense of the
remarkable man so many have benefited from knowing.
Signatures:Signatures 2/25/13 4:25 PM Page Publisher Indian River Magazine Inc. is a locally
owned company based at 308 Ave. A in Fort
Pierce, FL 34950. Indian River magazine
publishes five times a year: early October,
late November, mid-January, early March and
early May. All material
copyrighted by Indian
River Magazine Inc.
Rancher Bud Adams, whose
photography has appeared in
this magazine since our start
in 2006, died Sept. 22 at the
age of 91.