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Theo Adkins Jr.

Physical therapist, baseball player

Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.

A Petaluma physical therapist for more than 40 years, Theo “Ted” Adkins Jr. got his start in the field of athletics as a professional baseball player who was inducted into the California All Star Team’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Theo Adkins Jr.

Mr. Adkins died on Jan. 3, 2014 at the age of 85.

Born in Greeneville, Miss., Mr. Adkins grew up in the lumber mill community of Tuolumne, where he was a star athlete, earning him a full athletic scholarship to the College of the Pacific in Stockton.

During his college career, he excelled in football, basketball and boxing, but his favorite sport was baseball. He was chosen captain of the California All Star Team, and later was inducted into its Baseball Hall of Fame. He also developed lifetime friendships with his Rho Lambda Phi (Rhizomia) Fraternity Brothers.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1951, Mr. Adkins signed on with the Pittsburg Pirates as one of the few left handed first basemen in professional baseball. At one time, he had a better batting average than Mickey Mantle.

His baseball career was interrupted by military commitment, but luckily while serving as a lieutenant, he had the opportunity to play and manage its baseball team, which included some of America’s best ball players. Mr. Adkins also assisted the team doctor, finding it extremely interesting and enjoyable to help his teammates recover from injuries. The doctor eventually encouraged him to consider the field of physical therapy.

Upon being discharged from the military, he resumed his career with the Pirates, but after a few years, when they wanted him to move and manage the “Hollywood Stars,” he wondered if it was time to “hang ‘em up,” even though his friend and teammate, Chuck Conners, assured him that they would get into the movies. Mr. Adkins, however, decided to go back to school to earn a degree in physical therapy.

After completion, he moved to Santa Rosa to work for Welch & Techmeyer, and in 1958 married one of his college sweethearts, Gwen Shepherd. The couple moved to Petaluma in 1966, where Mr. Adkins established his own private physical therapy practice, which lasted almost 40 years.

In 1970, Gwen designed a home around a rock quarry in West Petaluma.

Mr. Adkins was very active in the community, serving as presidents of the 20/30 Club in Santa Rosa and the Petaluma Rotary Club. He was a member of the Elks Club, Masonic Lodge, Santa Rosa Scottish Rite, and Sons in Retirement.

He was an assistant coach for his daughter’s softball and his son’s Little League Teams. Having been born with a great tenor voice, he performed in several of the Harmoneer’s and Harmonette’s Musicals.

Mr. Adkins is survived by his children, Dana Adkins of Palm Springs and Clay Adkins of West Hollywood; and his former wife, Gwen Adkins of Santa Rosa.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary & Crematory, 850 Keokuk St.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Petaluma, 416 Payran St., Petaluma 94952.

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