A self-described "myth-maker," retired Collinsville High School teacher Ron Adams had a talent for engaging and entertaining students.
Adams died Monday at age 77 in the Elmwood Nursing and Rehab in Maryville. But on social media, memories from his students have far surpassed his brief obituary.
A teacher of mythology, Adams was remembered as a storyteller and a teacher who made great impacts on his students. They used words like "fun, interesting, incredible, talented, caring and absolute favorite teacher."
Adams specialized in Egyptian, Greek and Norse mythologies, teaching these historical myths through storytelling. It was his storytelling ability that made his classes so interesting, according to some of his former students.
"He could talk about a paper plate for hours and we’d never get bored," said Bridget Patrick, who graduated from Collinsville High School in 1998 and now lives in Edwardsville.
She said it wasn’t the subject that mattered as much as the way Adams presented it. Many years later, she could still remember the lectures, the ceiling tile drawings and how the class made her want to visit Egypt and Greece.
A few years ago, Patrick said, she saw Adams walking his dog and pulled over to chat with him. "He remembered me, even though I graduated 16 years ago at that point," Patrick said. "I told him how fun he made class, and how I still could recall specific lectures."
Outside the classroom, he told stories at the campfire at the Blum House and at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, ranging from ghost tales at Halloween to the history of the Pony Express. He was part of Gateway Storytellers, describing himself as a "myth-maker" focused on children ages 6-12 and teenagers as well as adults.
Adams was part of the Citizen Police Academy through the Collinsville Police Department, the police posted on Facebook, and helped with a recruiting video the department still uses.
"During his time with us, it became clear that Mr. Adams still had his gift for storytelling post-retirement, often times commanding the room with that unmistakable voice he was so well-known for," the police statement said.
Kimmy Ann Rogers said Adams was the "the best, most informative, most imaginative" teacher at the high school. She graduated in 1996 and currently lives in Wisconsin.
"He always kept us on our toes and the intrigue in his stories kept us all in awe," Rogers said. "We were prepared for his class and we came with enthusiasm to learn whatever he was teaching us at those moments."
Adams retired in 1999 from Collinsville High School after many years in education. After retirement, he worked with the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, a group funded by the University of Missouri-St. Louis to perform at various locations each year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He continued to work with Unit 10 schools, arranging for storytellers to come to the schools for free.
But Patrick said he was a "very humble person."
"Even in his death he didn’t make a spectacle of it," she said. Adams requested no services, and that his remains would be cremated.
Herr Funeral Home in Collinsville is handling the arrangements.