(April 17, 2012) - Longtime civic leader Ray Ackerman will be honored for his visionary role in the success of the Oklahoma River with a statue unveiling in Regatta Park near the Chesapeake Boathouse, 725 South Lincoln at 1:30 p.m. on April 20. The ceremony is open to the public.
Ackerman is founder and Chairman Emeritus of Ackerman McQueen Advertising Agency, the state’s largest and oldest advertising agency. He also served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years and retired from the Reserves as a rear admiral.
Ackerman is lauded for his energetic support of the City’s vision to transform approximately seven miles of the long neglected North Canadian River into a scenic and navigable waterway surrounded by trails and landscaping through MAPS. He later lobbied the state legislature to change the water way’s name to the Oklahoma River. Ackerman’s goal for the River was to unify north and south Oklahoma City. He is known by many as “Old Man River” because of his years of staunch advocacy for the river project.
“Ray has made an extraordinary mark on Oklahoma City,” said Mayor Mick Cornett. “He spent his entire adult life tirelessly promoting Oklahoma City and searching for ways to improve the quality of life for residents. Still in its infancy, the Oklahoma River is his lasting legacy,” said Mayor Mick Cornett.
A native Pennsylvanian, Ackerman served in the U.S. Navy then the U.S. Naval Reserves. He accepted an advertising sales position with The Daily Oklahoman and moved to Oklahoma City in 1947. One of his first accounts was B.C. Clark Jewelers, a client that helped pave the way to Ackerman’s advertising success.
Ackerman served on many boards during his long career, but made the most indelible mark on the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Central Oklahoma and the National Finals Rodeo.
In the mid-1980s, Ackerman pressed the City’s riverfront authority to conduct engineering studies to establish cost estimates for construction of river dams. The study helped establish the river portion on the MAPS ballot initiative, approved by Oklahoma City voters in 1993.
During his term as chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Ackerman successfully promoted the river project as the body’s highest civic priority.
“Residents support of lighting, wind screens, starting docks and the whitewater facility through their approval of MAPS 3 is a testament to Ray’s vision,” said longtime friend and business partner Lee Allen Smith. “The River will be a major recreation area for future generations – whether you enjoy rowing, fishing, cycling or simply picnicking.”
Ackerman resides in Oklahoma City with his wife, Lou, of 63 years.
Ceremony speakers include Lee Allan Smith, Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, Captain Charles Baker, Mayor Mick Cornett and Ray Ackerman. The U.S. Navy Strategic Communications Wing One Color Guard will present the colors and the OCU Choir will sing the national anthem.
Funding for the statue and ceremony was privately raised. The statue was created by artist Jack Nortz.
Contact: Kristy Yager
297-2550 / 863-2831