The Business Hall of Fame Class of 2017 is late BeeJay Adams, Mississippi Belle Distributing; the late Richard Huck, Huck Manufacturing; and the late Dean Searls, Adams Electric Cooperative.
Meredith Elisabeth Jane Seabury Adams, fondly referred to as “BeeJay,” had a successful career in journalism, politics, and business. At her first job as a journalist, Adams had to use the pen name “B.J.” so that no one would know a woman was working for that newspaper. Adams became interested in politics as a result of her journalism career, and was instrumental in the nomination and election of Quincyan Mary Lou Kent to the Illinois Senate. Adams took over Mississippi Belle after the death of her husband, Merlin, who had established the business in 1955 as M.F. Adams Company. Under her leadership, the business was moved to its current location inside M.F. Adams Industrial Park and grew so that it now serves establishments in a 150-mile radius of Quincy. In 1963, Adams was included in the Who’s Who of Women, and in 2007, she received a lifetime achievement award from the organization. She received the John Quincy Adams award from the City of Quincy for her lifelong contributions to the quality of life in the community. She died on April 12, 2007.
Richard Huck was only 19 years old when he and his siblings took over ownership of Huck Manufacturing upon the death of their father in 1913. Huck Manufacturing was founded in 1890 by Richard’s father and grandfather as a small woodworking shop. Under that generation’s leadership, the business expanded to make showcases for retail stores all throughout the United States, and at its peak, employed 300 people. When Huck Manufacturing was sold in 1969, Huck continued his involvement in the community with his service to the Catholic Church and the former St. Mary Hospital. In 1970, he was honored by the Industrial Association and the Quincy Chamber of Commerce for community and industrial leadership. He died on Feb. 21, 1980.
Dean Searls was manager of Adams Electric Cooperative from 1941 to 1981. During his tenure at Adams, Searls led the Cooperative into providing electricity for thousands of area residents, into appliance sales and service; and assisted in organizing Adams Telephone Cooperative in Golden. His career took him to all over the world, including an assignment in South Vietnam where he organized two cooperatives. In 1978, Searls received the George W. Cable award for outstanding service in rural electrification, and in 1980 he received an award from the Cooperatives of Adams County in recognition of his outstanding contributions in furthering the cooperative movement in our area. He died on Jan. 21, 1999.