Theresa ‘Terry’ Adamson, East Boston’s former Assistant Chief of Probation who arguably changed the way the courts dealt with drug offenders was honored last week at East Boston District Court.
The court’s probation office and staff dedicated Adamson’s former office at the courthouse in her memory. Adamson, who died last year after a long battle with cancer, spent her career at East Boston District Court fighting to help non-violent drug offenders back on the path of leading productive lives.
“Terry was a different probation officer,” said Chief of Probation Thomas Tassinari. “There’s a phrase that comes to mind, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and Terry was that change. She saved a lot of lives in that room.”
Terry, as she was affectionately known by friends, family and colleagues may have been small in stature but had a huge personality. While she only stood four foot nine she was a dynamo and before no one was trying to help people with addiction problems stay out of jail.
Adamson was a no nonsense probation officer that commanded respect but had a big heart and gave respect back to those who earned it.
It was tough love and while she may have seemed hard-nosed she helped a lot of kids recover from drug addiction whether it was finding them a treatment program or a bed in a rehab she worked for them because she cared tremendously about them.
North Suffolk Mental Health’s Kim Hanton, who worked with Adamson and was a close friend spoke of her commitment to the job. Hanton told a story of a young 21-year-old former addict that overdosed and was in a coma.
“She had no family and no one to be at her side,” said Hanton. “And there was Terry sitting beside her bed everyday until she pulled through. That’s the kind of person she was.”
Judge Joseph Fiandaca said that Adamson was an impressive figure when he first started in the court system.
“What always impressed me about Terry was her street smarts,” said Fiandaca. “A lot of times addicts thought they were getting something over on her but they would soon find out they were not. She saved a lot of lives and helped people get back on the right path.”
Former Chief of Probation Dave Arinella said he hopes the new crop of probation officers coming up the ranks learn something from Adamson’s tactics.
“If these new probations officers can learn something from the way she did things it would be a tremendous tribute to Terry and her work in probation for 30 years,” he said.