While traveling with students in Italy nearly 20 years ago, Carolyn Adair ’69 ’75 discovered an overgrown olive tree grove badly in need of nurturing. Through a bit of coaxing and a labor of love, she and her husband Tom ’57 ’65 bought and transformed the grove into Amici Italian Imports, a company she owns that sells homemade olive oil. She chose the name “amici” because it means “friends” in Italian.
For decades, the couple has likewise changed the lives of Aggies for the better. Carolyn acted as an adviser and friend to students for more than 25 years as the director of student activities, while Tom still teaches physics—a discipline for which he has great passion, despite the circumstances under which he chose it.
“During my freshman year as an engineering major, I had a drawing class on the opposite side of campus from my dorm,” he said. “The walk was so long, and I couldn’t draw a straight line, so I changed my major to physics!”
Chance also played a part in uniting Tom and Carolyn, a 1962 graduate of Texas Tech University. The two met while volunteering at a celebration in Liberty, Texas. “He came clear across the room to ask me to dance,” said Carolyn, “and the rest was history.”
After completing degrees at Texas A&M University and Rice University, Tom worked in research for Humble Oil (later ExxonMobil) and served one year with the infantry in the U.S. Army. He later completed a doctorate in physics from Texas A&M, which jump-started his 50-year teaching career. Meanwhile, Carolyn completed her doctorate and was asked by John J. Koldus, Texas A&M’s legendary vice president of student services, to create and lead the university’s student activities department, which she continued to expand and improve over the years.
“Working with Texas A&M students was the joy of my life,” Carolyn said. “I was inspired daily by their vision and commitment.” Though Tom continues to teach and also serves as the university’s faculty athletics representative, Carolyn now manages Amici Italian Imports.
In 2015, the Adairs established a significant planned gift of retirement assets and designated the Texas A&M Foundation as beneficiary of their wills to ensure that 100 percent of their estate would benefit Texas A&M. Tom directed his portion of the gift to the Department of Physics and the Texas A&M Coaching Academy, while Carolyn chose to support student activities.
“We don’t have children of our own, so giving all of our assets to benefit our adopted Aggie family made sense,” Carolyn said. “As the university grows, we hope these gifts enhance programs and provide students an opportunity to receive a world-renowned education.”
By Chelsea O'Neal ’17
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.