Ackers love community, exploring new ones

Published 4:30 pm Friday, January 8, 2010

When Dan Acker’s dad took the pastorate of West Blockton Baptist Church, Dan was a junior and basketball player at Howard College, now Samford University.

He spotted a girl named Judy Harmon, who was sophomore at Alabama College, now the University of Montevallo.

Acker kept hearing about a “Phillip West” and was, of course, thinking “competition.”

Later, Acker was relieved to discover Phillip was Judy’s cousin.

One and a half years later, Judy and Dan were married in that same church by the Rev. Acker.

If you have been an Alabaster resident for any length of time, the Acker name should be very familiar to you.

Dan taught history and physical education for 16 years at Thompson High School, then took a promotion and went to the Vo-Tec School in Columbiana, where he spent another 21 years.

Judy retired in 1994 after 33 years all at Thompson Elementary. Many, many folks in our area were taught by an Acker.

Parents to Melody, Danny Jr., Harmon and Jade, the Ackers were always very involved in the activities of their children, whether it was basketball, football, baseball, band, musical productions or competitions.

They are charter members of Westwood Baptist.

Although raised on hymns and traditional worship, they are perfectly happy with the contemporary-type music and service.

They stated that they have love for both types of music — traditional, singing about God and contemporary, singing to God.

Dan teaches “Seniors” and Judy sings in the choir. She was a music major at Montevallo.

The Ackers have been to all 50 states, on an Alaskan cruise, to France, Spain and England with an unbelievable 10 trips to the African continent.

There’s a very good reason for the latter, as their son, Jade, and his wife, Shelah, are Baptist missionaries in Uganda.

When Dan was 68 years old, after living more than 30 years in their home, Judy announced they were going to build a new dream home on property of the old Thompson Plantation.

Their home, (or as Dan calls it — Judy’s home) is unique with its African furniture, carvings and art.

The upstairs library, catwalk and office are beautiful. I didn’t count, but with the living room, family room, sun room, dining room and kitchen, one could probably seat more than 40 people.

Personalized tile work and so many paintings and carvings make it difficult to “take everything in.” A completed suite in the basement gives Jade and Shelah a place for privacy when they come on their yearly visit from Africa.

Acker is currently serving his 18th year as a Shelby County commissioner, while Judy has time for planning trips, enjoying nine grandchildren — six girls and three boys — or just being creative.

In the spring and summer you might run into the Ackers at Veterans Park watching grandsons play ball.

When the grandchildren go to MiMi’s house, they have lots of house and a beautiful manicured yard right down to Buck Creek. It is gorgeous.

After a total of 70 years in education, thousands of travel miles, community, civic, church and school involvement, I’d say the Ackers have given their best.

Through teaching, love, laughter, family and worship, the Ackers try to glorify God.

Sandra Thames writes a weekly column for the Alabaster Reporter. Reach her at