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Former Commissioner Bill Ackerman dies at 85

BY Randy Zellers

ON 06-23-2021


June 23, 2021

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner William Nelson “Bill” Ackerman died June 15 at his Fayetteville home. He was born Dec. 15, 1935.

A native of Roswell, New Mexico, Ackerman moved to northwest Arkansas in 1992. He was appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commision by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2001.

Ackerman served as a commissioner until 2003, but his efforts to help anglers on Arkansas’s famous trout tailwaters continued well past his time at the AGFC. Fishing was his passion, and many anglers who visited the cool tailwater below Norfork Dam near Mountain Home have unknowingly met the man as he enjoyed casting a line or offered helpful advice on the proper fly or technique to coax sometimes stubborn trout to bite. That legacy of aiding trout anglers continues thanks to Bill Ackerman River Ridge Access Area, the AGFC’s first handicapped-accessible walk-in fishing facility on the North Fork River, which was dedicated in Ackerman’s name in 2004. The access, just downstream of the North Fork River Catch-and-Release Area, is the only public access between the boat ramp at Norfork Dam and the confluence of the North Fork and White rivers.

Commissioner Rob Finley of Mountain Home was one of many who spoke about Ackerman’s passing at the Commission’s June 17 meeting. 

“Bill and (his wife) Bootsie both are known for their contribution to the Mountain Home area, the White River and the North Fork River,” Finley said. “One of the first things that Bill did when he became commissioner was to go to the (AGFC) Mountain Home office and say, ‘What do you need?’ He’s credited with giving support for so much that the Mountain Home office has today.” 

In addition to his time on the Commission, Ackerman was a former member of the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the past chairman of the Washington County Council on Aging. He also served with the Northwest Arkansas Economic Advisory District. Ackerman served six years on the Washington County Election Commission and was recently appointed to the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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