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We recently caught up with our very own Thomas Adams ’67 and had the chance to ask him about his Sigma Nu experience, and where life since UNC has taken him. Here's what he had to say: 

Coming from a small high school in Alabama with a graduating class of only 32, I arrived at the University of North Carolina a bit nervous without any social network. Through the swimming team, I met members of Sigma Nu including Eminent Commander Thompson Mann '64, who went on to win a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. With the swimming team and Sigma Nu, I found niches within the big University. As I look back on college, I appreciate the importance of smaller groups with which to identify and build relationships. At the Sigma Nu house, there was a spring tradition of hauling the Wurlitzer jukebox from the party room in the basement to the front porch. My fondest memories are of lazy spring days after the end of swimming season with North Carolina 1960s beach music from the gaudy jukebox. As my 1967 graduation approached, like most of my fraternity brothers, I was focused on having a great time my last semester and oblivious to the war and military draft awaiting me. Fortunately, my parents were panic-stricken and with letters and phone calls pushed me to take the responsibility seriously. Application to Navy OCS resulted in a couple of years as Supply Officer aboard an LST up and down the coast and rivers in Vietnam. I got to see Southeast Asia and look back on it as an opportunity for personal development. Since then, I have worked in our family business that dates back to the 1880s in Birmingham, Alabama. The business has changed and now encompasses an insurance company and two software-as-a-service businesses, all focused on the used car industry. Running a narrow niche business has been both challenging and fun. The used car industry is replete with characters and crooks. The highlight of a more than 40-year career was a 1994

Thomas, pictured in the yearbook, swimming.

trip to Columbia to recover 18 expensive cars bought with phony checks at one of our insured auto auctions. With only my business cards for credibility, plus much luck and a month of hard work, I got all of the cars back. Since retiring in 2015 and enjoying watching the next generation carry on our family businesses, I have spent leisure time golfing, skiing, and biking as well as traveling extensively with my wife of 48 years. Due to the pandemic, we have spent the past year sheltering in place with our Golden Retrievers but look forward to resuming traveling. We are excited about spending time with our 12-year-old twin granddaughters, whom we haven’t seen since Thanksgiving 2019, and to seeing more of the world. At age 75, I recognize that life from 75 to 85 will likely be much more fun than 85 to 95, and we plan to make the most of our experiences. 


Thanks for writing in Thomas! Would you or a brother you know make a great alumni profile subject? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CLICK HERE to let us know!