Richard N. “Dick” Acker

Published 7:32 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Richard N. “Dick” Acker was born August 11, 1923 in Selma, Alabama and graduated from Selma High School in 1941. Following military service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II, including service in the South Pacific, Philippines and Japan, he earned his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Alabama in 1949. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi honorary scientific fraternity.

Following graduation, he moved from Alabama to Warren, Ohio, where he was employed by Packard Electric Division of General Motors Corporation for 33 years. He retired in 1982.

From 1949 to 1972, Mr. Acker held various positions at Packard Electric in engineering. production control, and manufacturing management. In 1972 he moved to Jackson, Mississippi to build, staff and manage Packard’s new facilities in Clinton and Brookhaven, and in the late 1970’s, its supplier network in Central Mississippi. The late Skip LeFauve, who served General Motors as the first president of its Saturn division, once described Mr. Acker as GM’s “Architect of the Southern Strategy.”

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Mr. Acker was a member and ambassador of the Madison Chamber of Commerce SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), the Madison Square Redevelopment Authority, Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Jackson.

He was a past officer and/or board member of Goodwill Industries, United Way, Keep Jackson Beautiful, Junior Achievement of Mississippi, Mississippi Manufacturers’ Association, Jackson and Clinton Chambers of Commerce, Mississippi Prison Industries Advisory Council, the United Negro College Fund, and was  the first Chairman of the Mississippi Board of Vocational and Technical Education.

Mr. Acker was a member of the University of Alabama Capstone Engineering Society and in 1987 was honored by being named an Outstanding Fellow by the University of Alabama Department of Industrial Engineering.

He was named Executive Director of the Jackson Enterprise Center when it was established in 1987, devoting his time to job creation and small business development through the Jackson Enterprise Center small business incubator, which was named Incubator of the Year on June 6, 1995 by the National Business Incubator Association at its annual conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He retired from the Jackson Enterprise Center in 1999.

On June 10, 1998, Mr. Acker was inducted into the Packard Electric Division of General Motors Hall of Fame in Warren, Ohio.

On May 19, 2003, Mr. Acker was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.

Mr. Acker was married to Louise “Lou” Acker on September 4, 1948 and the marriage endured for 63 years until her death on November 4, 2011. He is survived by three sons, Steve of Madison, Rick and his wife Debbie of Prattville, Alabama, and Jim and his wife Teresa of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. He has 7 grandchildren-Warren and Ryan Acker of Brandon, Tristan, Shannon and Fallon Acker of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, Stacey Acker of Prattville, Alabama, Matthew Watts of Clinton, Mississippi, and several great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11:00 AM in the Sanctuary of Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church with burial following in Parkway Memorial Cemetery in Ridgeland.  Visitation will be from 5 to 8 PM Friday at Wright and Ferguson on High Street and after 9:30 AM Saturday in the Parlor at Galloway Church.

In lieu of Flowers memorials should be made to Junior Achievement of MS, The Simmons Arboretum or the MS Chapter of the Alabama Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.