Gary L. Ackerman

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Gary Lee Ackerman, 83, of Guttenberg, passed away Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at the V.A. Hospital in Iowa City. 

The family will have a private burial at the Ackerman Cemetery in Glen Haven, Wis. 

Gary was born in Cassville, Wis., on March 27, 1936, son of Lucille (Perrin) and Leroy “Hatchy” Ackerman. He spent much of his childhood hunting and fishing on the Mighty Mississippi and working as a commercial fisherman with his father. He also enjoyed playing baseball and basketball in high school. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1964 with a B.S. in Biology and Geology degrees. He also served in the Army from 1959 – 1961, and was stationed at the Grafenwoehr Base, East Germany. He was part of the 48th Armored Infantry Battalion and assigned to an M39 Armored Utility Vehicle crew. On April 29, 1967, he married Mary Jane McKeown at St. Joseph Church in Waterloo.

Gary started his career as a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Conservation Commission and was stationed at Boone and Independence. In 1965, he took a position with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lake Oahe division, Mobridge, S.D. Within a year, he returned to Iowa and became the N.E. Iowa Fish Hatchery manager based out of Edgewood. In 1974, he moved to Guttenberg and managed the Iowa DNR fish hatchery and aquarium next to Lock and Dam #10 for the next 18 years. During his career, he was actively involved with the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee and played a large role in the Bussey Lake habitat restoration project and south boat landing construction project in Guttenberg.

After retirement, he enjoyed playing golf and bridge and going to morning coffee at Rausch's Cafe. Other hobbies included woodworking, gardening, yard work, shooting, hunting, spending time with his dogs and maintaining his small orchard. For many years, he enjoyed annual salmon fishing trips to Lake Michigan and was a diehard Badger fan, but quietly was a Hawkeye fan too. All his hobbies and interests involved a lot of work, which he was always willing to share with others. In fact, his family had given him a long-standing nickname “Chief” as he very much enjoyed giving direction and constructive criticism to his workforce (family and sometimes unlucky friends who would visit). Periodically he would remind his sons there was only one way to do things…the right way and his way. This did help foster a strong work ethic and creative thinking, as he would always first try to repair and improve a broken piece of equipment vs. buy new.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; sons, Nick (Lori) Ackerman, Cedar Rapids, and Mike (Heather Fitzloff) Ackerman, Westby, Wis., and brother, David Ackerman, Dubuque. He also has three grandchildren, Kaitlin Ackerman and Matt Ackerman, Cedar Rapids, and Brad Ackerman, La Crosse, Wis.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Guttenberg City Pool or the Iowa City Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The family would also like to extend a special thanks to Brian Meyer of Millville for all of his help these past few years and for his friendship to Gary. 

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