"Thomas “Tommy” Choi Adams succumbed to cancer this November in California, at the age of 56.
Born Choi Jinoo in Seoul, Korea, Tommy immigrated to the U.S. as a young child, along with his mother (Chunghee Choi Adams), brother (Jim Adams), and sister (Patricia Nordby). Tommy’s mom soon met Gerald Drayson Adams, an author and screenwriter who married Chunghee and adopted her children. The family moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Tommy grew up, developing many lifelong friendships while dedicating himself to drawing, painting, and studying art.
Tommy was an exceptional artist whose work ran from classical (such as huge, realistic portraits in acrylics), to comic book, to outlandish (including some hilariously raunchy caricatures of friends). All were made with a deft hand and expansive mind. His sense of humor and empathy were remarkable, as was his penchant for arguing with the people he loved most. A phone call from Tommy could last hours and would usually cover myriad topics and evoke a wide variety of emotions, with him invariably getting the last word.
In the late ’80s Tommy moved to San Francisco, where he built a career as an artist and prop designer for video games, animated ads, TV shows, and movies. Employers included Colossal Pictures, Wild Brain Productions, PostLinear Entertainment, Page 44 Studios, and 3DO. You might have seen his work in games such as Freakstyle, ads such as Coca-Cola Supermom, animated TV shows such as Freakazoid! and Back to the Future, and movies such as FernGully 2.
In the late ’90s Tommy met and married Julie Henslee. They raised their two daughters, Maxine and Zoe, in Austin, Texas. Tommy took a job as a graphic artist for the City of Austin, where he worked for over a decade.
Tommy liked cooking, playing video and board games, and reading. He also enjoyed watching NFL football; Star Trek; Gilmore Girls; Outlander; Asian martial arts movies; Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives; and Magnum P.I. He loved to laugh and had a beautiful smile.
Most of all, Tommy loved spending time with — and bragging about — his daughters. He particularly enjoyed correcting their drawings and losing at board games while accusing them of cheating. Side by side, Tommy and his daughters made Korean food, engaged in truly ambitious Lego projects, read comic books, and watched ’80s movies.
Tommy’s family and friends loved him for his sharp wit, deep voice, kind heart, and enormous capacity for joy and love. He is and will continue to be missed beyond measure.
Tommy was preceded in death by his father, Gerald Adams. He’s survived by his mother, Chunghee Choi Adams; teenage daughters, Maxine and Zoe Adams; brother, Jim Adams; and sister, Patricia Nordby.
To celebrate Tommy’s life, we suggest that you enjoy a good meal in the company of friends. A memorial will be held in New Mexico at a date yet to be announced."
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