Roger Williams Ackerman, beloved husband of Deane Wodis Ackerman, died on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, at his home.
He was a son of the late Emil Ralph Ackerman and Hannah Levy Ackerman. He was born in 1932, in Wadesboro, North Carolina, but his family moved to his mother's hometown of Bishopville when he was an infant. There they resided in his grandparent's home for four years. In 1936, the family moved to Wallace, North Carolina, and there they remained for many years. Roger and his beloved older sister, Pam, were able to thrive in this close-knit small southern town, where he excelled in his school work as well as athletics. Football and baseball were a large part of his youth. Being elected in his senior year as co-captain by his teammates of his school's undefeated football team, along with his best friend, was the highlight of his high school years.
Living in a small town prompted him to reach out to other Jewish youth in the state and, in his teens, he joined the N.C. Association of Jewish Youth. With his natural leadership skills, he made some life-long friends and served as president of that organization for two consecutive years.
As he did in high school, Roger excelled scholastically at the University of North Carolina, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. While there, he served as president of his fraternity and was inducted into the prestigious Order of the Old Well and the USAF ROTC Scabbard and Blade Society. After graduation, he served on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and numerous years thereafter in the Air Force Reserve. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 15.
Following his service duty, he began his business career working for a metal recycling firm in Goldsboro, North Carolina. In 1965, he accepted the offer to become general manager of Addlestone Co. and moved his family to Sumter. Once here, Roger, along with his wife and children, fell in love with Sumter and its people and knew this was to be home. By 1970, he was able to establish his own business, Ackerman Metals Inc. and the Ackerman Management Co., and later acquired Orangeburg Metal Co. in Orangeburg and McCabe Scrap Iron and Materials Co. in Galesburg, Illinois. Active in his trade organization, he served as president of the southern division and also served a term on its national board of directors.
Devoted to his faith, Roger was an active member of Temple Sinai and served in many capacities, including numerous terms as president of the congregation and, in later years, he chaired the long range planning committee to provide for care of the Jewish Cemetery and the Temple building, which is on the historic register.
His involvement is the Sumter community covered many areas. He served on the boards of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, the Sumter Little Theatre, Sumter County Gallery of Art, the Sumter County Cultural Commission, Sumter Industrial Association and Covenant Place. He served as co-chairman of the 2002-2003 Building Fund for the Sumter County Gallery of Art. In 1997, he was the Sumter YMCA Humanitarian of the Year.
In 1975, along with his wife and oldest daughter Polly in the cast, he took center stage as the lead in "The Music Man." Throughout the remainder of his life, he was well remembered for that role and over the years some friends would continue to greet him with that title.
He valued his many years as a member of the Fortnightly Club, a literary club that has been in existence for more than 100 years, always enjoying the fellowship and the challenge of creating an interesting and informative paper to present. He was an active member of Rotary for more than 50 years and served the Sumter Rotary Club as president in 1978-79. He was recognized by his club as Rotarian of the Year in 1982 and 2017. In the last years of his life, he was made an honorary member by his club. He had the distinction of being named District 7770 Rotarian of the Year in three different decades, probably the only Rotarian ever to be so honored. In 1997, he received Rotary International's Distinguished Service Award; and, in 2006, he was recipient of the Service Above Self Award, the highest honor given to an individual Rotarian by Rotary International.
Roger was most appreciative that his fellow Rotarians recognized him as being the founder of The CART Fund (Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust), which has raised millions of dollars for Alzheimer's research. In more than 20 years, he was the guest speaker more than 200 times at Rotary Club functions in the Carolinas, Georgia and other states, promoting The CART Fund. He worked tirelessly on all aspects of the fund. When asked what his hopes were for The CART Fund, he would always reply, "To no longer need it," as that would mean we had found a cure/prevention for Alzheimer's disease. Under his leadership, The CART Fund won the Angel Award, established by the South Carolina Secretary of State, for charities that give a high percentage of the funds they raise to the cause for which they were established. The CART Fund was cited for giving 100 percent of all contributions to research. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest award given to an individual for excellence in service.
The last years of his life were devoted to preserving Temple Sinai and creating Temple Sinai Jewish History Center. Working along with several other congregation members, the center became a reality and opened to the public in June of 2018 and is now part of the Sumter County Museum complex.
He had a profound love for Sumter and its people but, above all else in his life, his devotion and love for his family were foremost in his mind and heart.
During the last months of Roger's life, Mayor Joe McElveen visited the Ackerman home to present him with the Gamecock City Society Award for distinguished and exemplary service to the community.
Surviving are his wife of Sumter; his children, Matthew Ackerman of Flagstaff, Arizona, Polly Menaker (Steve) of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Angela Jurs (Tim) of Castalia, Ohio; grandchildren, Noah Menaker, Simon Menaker and Jasmine Rae Ackerman; sister-in-law, Lynn Sherman of Aubrey, Texas; and nieces and their families.
Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday at Temple Sinai on Church Street with Rabbi Sanford Marcus officiating. Private burial will be held at the Sumter Jewish Cemetery.
The family will receive friends following the memorial service at the Sumter County Museum Heritage Education building in McKenzie Hall and other times at the home.
Honorary pallbearers will be Johnny Hilton, Jay Schwartz, Hubert Osteen, Harold Rabhan, Seymour Levin, Rand Bailey, Phil Palmer, Chris Caison, Abe Stern, Chuck Fienning, Eddie Kinney, Ray Reich, Dr. Ted Young, Joe Wallace Jr., Frank Edwards and Billy Prescott.
Memorials may be made to Temple Sinai Jewish History Center, P.O. Box 1673, Sumter, SC 29151; The Cart Fund, P.O. Box 1916, Sumter, SC 29151; or Sumter County Gallery of Art, P.O. Box 1316, Sumter, SC 29151.
Online condolences may be sent to www.sumterfunerals.com.
Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home & Crematory, 221 Broad St., Sumter, is in charge of the arrangements, (803) 775-9386.
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