Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Ken Adams, a Wellington resident and businessman who was instrumental in the formation of the village, will be the newest name on the Wellington Founders Plaque.
At Tuesday’s Wellington Village Council meeting, the unanimous decision to add Adams to the plaque was made at the request of Town-Crier Publisher Barry Manning with the support of several other business and community leaders.
“From time to time, the opportunity presents itself to propose a name for the Founders Plaque,” Manning told council members. “Mr. Adams is a business leader, an honest political leader, a community leader — he was the charter committee chair — and a dependable community volunteer.”
He said he was nominating Adams for the honor because of his work to help shape the village and inspire others to follow suit.
“Over the years, Mr. Adams has set an example for the leaders in this community,” Manning said. “His efforts have set a high standard for Wellington.”
When other community and business leaders heard about Manning’s plans to nominate Adams, they were supportive, he said. “By the time I was ready to submit this, I had more than a dozen and a half additional signatories,” Manning said. “Many of them showed up tonight because they wanted to be present to see Mr. Adams’ name added to the plaque.”
The outpouring of support crosses political lines, Manning said, showing that Adams is truly a leader who speaks to people of all ideologies. “The people who signed this petition run the gamut from one political leaning all the way across the aisle to the other,” he said. “That’s an indication that Mr. Adams has a strong appeal to the widest range, and is the type of person that Wellington should consider itself lucky to have plotted its foundation so many years ago.”
Council members were supportive of the idea.
Councilman Matt Willhite said that Adams continues to work for the betterment of the village even today.
“I consider him a kitchen-table person,” Willhite said. “He’s the kind of person you can sit down with and ask him questions, and you know you’ll get the most honest and thorough answer.”
He also said Adams should be commended for his practices — political, business and personal.
“I have yet to find another person I find more ethical and highly respectable,” Willhite said. “With the work he did to incorporate this village, his work on the county commission and, on top of that, his humble nature, I think he will be a great addition to the Founders Plaque.”
Councilman John Greene said that in the short time he has known Adams, he has been a source of wisdom and guidance.
“He’s a man of great character and leadership,” Greene said. “I’d like to thank you for the time you gave me and the wisdom you shared, as well as your commitment to this village.”
Councilwoman Anne Gerwig noted that Adams helped Wellington out of its infancy.
“He was involved in the original incorporation of Wellington and helped us become a grown-up municipality. Thank you, Mr. Adams, for what you’ve done. I’m glad to have an opportunity to do this,” she said.
Adams has been a committed public servant, Vice Mayor Howard Coates said.
“He’s someone we’re proud to have as part of the Village of Wellington,” he said. “When I think of the people that deserve to be on this list, Mr. Adams is at the top. I wholeheartedly support this.”
Mayor Bob Margolis called Adams a “role model” for him.
“He always sees the bigger picture,” Margolis said. “He has absolutely raised the bar very high in the Village of Wellington. I can’t find anyone else I know who would be more deserving.”
Greene made a motion to accept the proposal, which carried unanimously.
“It really is time to do this,” Margolis said. “It’s the least we can do for [Adams] in this village.”
Adams thanked each of the council members for their words but said that he was accepting the honor for those who had come before him.
“I’m accepting it for those who are better people than I am and who have done more for Wellington than I have,” he said. “Unfortunately, they are all gone. I’d like to accept it in their honor.”
He pointed to Roger Wellington, who was an instrumental part of forming the community.
“He was president of the Acme Improvement District,” Adams said. “He submitted the first planned unit of development at a low density. He didn’t need to do that. There were no rules. He could have made a lot more money with more density, but he wanted a village and community that his family name would be on, that he could be proud of.”
Adams noted that Wellington, along with early community pioneer A.W. “Bink” Glisson, had set aside land for preservation.
“They didn’t need to,” he said. “There were no requirements that they do that. They just thought it was the right thing to do.”
When Wellington and Glisson left the stage, they passed the torch to a new generation of leaders. “Those are the kind of people who founded Wellington and built it through the years,” he said.
They included great equestrian leaders who helped build Wellington’s reputation internationally. Specifically, Adams pointed to early Wellington developer and polo legend Bill Ylvisaker, who first brought equestrian sports the community. “For the first time ever, the eyes of the world were on little Wellington,” Adams said, referencing Prince Charles’ visit to the community to play on the Palm Beach Polo fields.
Later it was horse show promoter Gene Mische, who brought show jumping to the area. Adams said he’d recently seen an interview with Mische while on his deathbed. The reporter asked him what he was most proud of.
“Gene didn’t hesitate a moment,” Adams recalled. “He said, ‘Down in Wellington, Florida, there is an equestrian preserve.’ I almost fell off my chair.”
Adams recalled how he and Mische had been at odds over the concept of an equestrian preserve.
“But after talking and truly listening to each other, he realized what could be done with this sort of designation,” Adams said. “That is the thing Gene was most proud of in his whole life, and I’m proud of that.”
Adams said he would accept the honor for all those who had made Wellington so great.
“We all stand on some very strong shoulders in Wellington,” he said. “It’s on their behalf that I’d like to accept this honor. It’s they and others who created Wellington, a very special place that takes hold of one’s life and creates fantastic memories. It has for me, and it will for all of you.”
ABOVE: Members of the Wellington Village Council with former County Commissioner and longtime Wellington businessman Ken Adams (third from left), who was honored Tuesday by having his name placed on the village’s “Founders Plaque.”