Eugene R. Ackley, 1931-2017
Eugene Richard Ackley, 86, passed away on Nov. 16, 2017 after a three-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Gene was born on March 5, 1931 in Rockford, Ill., the son of James E. and Anita (Luenzmann) Ackley. He was a long-time resident of Pewaukee, and attended public schools there, graduating second in the Pewaukee High School class of 1949.
Following high school, Gene attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, but after his freshman year took a four-year break to enlist in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.
Gene and his brother Jim were control tower operators, and saw duty in both stateside and overseas locations, including Chin Hae Air Base in Korea. Following the war, Gene returned to the University of Wisconsin, where he majored in finance. He was a member of Theta Delta Chi Fraternity and also rowed for Wisconsin as a member of the varsity eight-man crew.
Gene met the love of his life, Sally Freudenberg, at Wisconsin during that time, and the happy couple was married in Wauwatosa on Sept. 9, 1955. He graduated from Wisconsin in 1957, and the family again took up residence in Pewaukee, where Gene and his brother Jim took over operation of the local school bus company, Studentline, Inc., which had been founded by their father. The brothers sold the company in 1967, and Gene left to pursue a career at the Heil Company, a truck manufacturer in Milwaukee. Gene served in various finance-related positions with Heil including credit manager and assistant treasurer, and was transferred to Alabama in 1986 when the company moved its manufacturing operations there. Gene and Sally spent several years in Alabama until Gene’s retirement in 1993, at which point they retired to their dream home in Fraser. They enjoyed nearly 20 years of retirement in Colorado; after Sally’s passing in 2012 Gene moved back to the Pewaukee area to be closer to family.
Gene was active in many civic and community organizations throughout his life, including Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, Lakefront Festival of Arts, Lions Club, Habitat for Humanity, and National Sports Center for the Disabled. He was also very active in the Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry at St. Bartholomew’s in Pewaukee and St. John’s the Baptist in Granby. In 1975 he served as the co-chairman for the Lakefront Festival of Arts in Milwaukee, one of the largest art festivals in the Midwest. Gene was an avid sailor, runner, skier, hiker, and mountain climber. He and his brother Jim were long-time members of Pewaukee Yacht Club, and competed in both E class and M-20 class scows. Gene competed in many marathons, including the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee, the Atlanta Marathon, and the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Ala. He was always up for physical challenges, and climbed a number of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado as well as Mount Rainier in Washington, Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa), Mount Elbrus (the highest peak in Europe) and Mount Aconcagua (the highest peak in South America). While Gene’s family was extremely proud of his accomplishments and involvement, their greatest pleasure came from watching Gene make strong connections where ever he went. Some of their fondest memories revolved around recounting the antics that Gene and his friends played on one another, his mishaps while sailing, and his kindness and profound sense of humor shown to all. And, anyone who knew Gene knew of his incredible lifelong love for Sally.
Gene will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his three children, Michael (Elizabeth), Karen Tredwell (James), and Jeffrey (Sara); six grandchildren, Sean (Susie), Elissa Grover (Brent), Erika O’Hern (Gabe), Christopher Tredwell, Christine, and David, as well as seven great grandchildren, Emma and Morrison O’Hern, Sarah, Ruthie, and Rose Ackley, and Eleanor and Beatrice Grover. He is further survived by his younger brother John (Helen), sister-in-law Carol, nieces and nephews Johnny, Donna Muehl (Mark), Jen Otte (Tim), Ted (Betty Anne), Joe (Leah), and Julie Bychinski (Todd).
Visitation will be at Yonke & Son Funeral Home, 205 Prospect Ave., Pewaukee from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 24, and a memorial service will be held at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, N27 W24000 Paul Court in Pewaukee at 1 p.m. Nov. 25. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church or Waukesha County Food Pantry, 1301 Sentry Dr., Waukesha, Wisconsin 53186.
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