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GMC Remembers the Life of Former GMC President, Major General Bill Acker
Georgia Military College Remembers and Honors the Life of Former GMC President and President Emeritus,
Major General William "Bill" P. Acker
Georgia Military College is deeply saddened by the passing of former GMC President and a President Emeritus, Major General Bill Acker. Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., General Acker graduated from high school in Greenville, S.C. He then joined the Junior College Corps of Cadets at GMC and graduated in 1950 and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Master of Management from Arizona State University. In 1952, he was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program. During his time serving his country, General Acker traveled the world and is a decorated combat pilot. Following the armistice during the Korean War he flew missions designed to preserve the armistice. Later, he would serve two combat tours in Vietnam during which he flew more than 211 combat hours.
In 1977, he was awarded the GMC Distinguished Alumnus Award for his service to humanity and dedication to the institution. He served 33 distinguished years in the Air Force before coming back to his alma mater. In 1985, General Acker retired from active duty and assumed the duties as the 19th President from 1985 to 1992 and was named a GMC President Emeritus in 2017.
Over his years as President of GMC, General Acker worked towards moving the institution to new heights. When he assumed the role of President, General Acker fought hard and was able to increase state funding for the school, added sixth and seventh grades to the Prep school, added four new college campuses in Georgia, resurrected the College football team, implemented new technology in the classrooms, and began providing scholarships to African American students to increase diversity. Through his hard work, General Acker was able to pay down some of GMC’s debt and turn the school’s finances around.
Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV, President of Georgia Military College, says if it weren’t for General Acker, GMC may not be where it is today.
“All of us have been able to accomplish what we have as Presidents of GMC because of the people before us – I look at what we’re doing today at Georgia Military College and so much of that is because of the foundation that was laid by President Peter Boylan when he was here, and he was successful because of the foundation that President Acker laid. General Acker was faced with enormous challenges. He assumed duties as the President of GMC at a time when literally there were plans to close the school, but when he came on as President, he made a vow to save the institution. He was able to bring GMC back to being a viable entity, he worked our accreditation, increased enrollments – he brought the life back to GMC. That then enabled General Boylan when he came in as the President to build up the infrastructure and get the college back to being as vibrant as it once was. And now because of their efforts, we’re able to grow and expand from there.”
Tony Owen, GMC Prep School (’47) and college (’49) alumnus, was a friend of General Acker’s. They went to school together at GMC, and were in the Air Force at the same time. They rekindled their friendship when they both ended up back at their alma mater for Owen to serve as President of the Alumni Association, and
General Acker to serve as President of GMC. He says General Acker was not only a fearless leader at GMC, but a true friend.
“When I heard he was coming back to GMC as President, I could not have been more excited,” said Tony Owen, GMC Prep School graduate of 1947, and junior college graduate of 1949. “I was President of the GMC Alumni Association at the time and we were really struggling financially and he was the first one to really come in here and turn this place around. It’s amazing to see all the work he put in during his time as President, and to look at all the progress that has taken place over the years now with General Caldwell and everyone in between, it’s really amazing.”
Even though it’s been over 25 years since General Acker served as President of GMC, General Caldwell says General Acker would always ask how he could help.
“I feel very blessed to have gotten to know General Acker in the last few years and he has been very plugged in since then,” General Caldwell said. “He would always take the time to reach out and compliment those who are here today for what they are doing. There wasn’t a week or so that went by that somebody in this institution did not receive a personal email from him having read something that was going on to say, ‘Hey, great job – I’m proud of what you’re doing.’ He was just an absolute wonderful human being and he will be greatly missed by all here at GMC.”
Owen agrees, saying General Acker was a special man.
“Superlatives are hard to come by when it comes to Bill, there are so many qualities that describe his character and personality,” Owen said. “But above all, he was a true, true friend. Everyone he met, he made them feel as though they were a dear friend of his. He was a very honorable person and an enjoyable person to be with at all times.”
General Acker leaves behind his wife Nadine, his three children, Patricia, Kathryn, and William Jr., as well as many grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. They will hold his memory close in their home of San Antonio, Texas, and all of us at Georgia Military College will remember his unfailing service to GMC and the Milledgeville community, as his legacy will forever live on at the institution.