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Daniel Acker Sr

Born on 2-28-1910. He was born in East Radford, Va. He later died on 5-18-1997.
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Daniel R. Acker, Sr. was born on February 28, 1910 in East Radford, Virginia, but raised in Williamson, West Virginia, a coal-mining town. He was the only son of Elizabeth Brown Acker and Paul Acker. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and education from West Virginia State University and a Master of Arts in the same fields from the University of Michigan. Mr. Acker's education at the University of Michigan was paid for by the state of West Virginia rather than allowing him to attend the segregated West Virginia State University. Such experiences of the denial of rights to African Americans became a motivating factor in determining the course that Daniel Acker's life would take.

Dan Acker's early career was as an educator, first teaching elementary school, then chemistry and physics at Liberty High school in Williamson, West Virginia from 1933-43. It was in Williamson that Dan met and married the love of his life, Louise Broome. She was also a teacher, of English and social studies, at Liberty High. They wed in Memphis, Tennessee, on December 26, 1935. After years of studying and hard work, Acker decided to move from education to the field of industrial chemistry. He was offered a job at Point Pleasant, a chemical plant in West Virginia. However, when his prospective employer saw that Mr. Acker was black, the offer was withdrawn.

During World War II, the government desperately sought chemists for the munitions industry. One of the few blacks at the time to hold a master's degree in chemistry, he was hired by the Trojan Powder Company/Plum Brook Ordnance Works in Sandusky, Ohio. While there, he worked on the Manhattan Project that built the atom bomb. In 1944, Mr. Acker and his family moved to Buffalo after receiving an offer from Linde Air (a division of Union Carbide). As a chemist at Linde for over 30 years, he helped develop antifreeze and liquid nitrogen used today for cryosurgery and freezing blood.

Although his work in chemistry was outstanding, he did not receive the recognition he deserved until years later. His commitment to the community, to the church, and to civil rights would come to overshadow his professional career and bring him the recognition denied him as a chemist.

Shortly after moving to Buffalo, Dan and Louise joined Lloyd's Memorial congregational Church and began a life-long affiliation, where he served as chairman of the Deacons and Trustee boards at various times and as co-chair of the Building Fund. As the church moved through many changes, Dan was always among the leaders as a new church was built and as the church merged with another and became New Covenant United Church of Christ. Throughout his life in Buffalo, the church as well as his family remained a constant source of strength and renewal.

In 1950 as a new homeowner, he broke the color barrier when he and his wife, Louise, purchased the family home on Monticello Place. Angry residents dug up his shrubs. This experience and his long dedication to equality in all aspects of life moved him to co-found H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities Made Equal) in the 1960s to ensure decent housing for African Americans.

As a father and educator, Mr. Acker recognized the importance of quality education for all. In 1976 in his role as civil rights advocate and president of the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP, he filed a class action suit to desegregate the Buffalo Public Schools. A tireless fighter, he persevered through the 21 years it took to settle the case.

Mr. Acker was a believer in the importance of and the support that good, strong organizations could offer to the community. In light of this, he was a founding member of the Buffalo chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.

Dan Acker recognized the need to prepare young people for life and to develop future leaders. His commitment to this idea prompted him to support the Michigan Avenue YMCA as a member of the local and national councils and as a long time local board member. He also actively supported ACT-SO, the youth academic achievement Olympics program of the NAACP. Under his direction, members often earned awards at the NAACP national conventions.

Mr. Acker received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the NAACP Medgar Evers Award, the YMCA Good Key Award, the Southern Christian Leadership Award, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Medallion, and the Crystal Buffalo Award. He is listed in Who's Who in Colored America, Who's Who Among Black Americans and Blacks in Science and Medicine. He was also a member of the American Chemical Society for more than 50 years. He was a doctoral candidate at the California Coast University for a Ph.D. in Education. His dissertation entitled: Desegregation of the Buffalo Public School, had been submitted for final approval.

Above all, Daniel Acker was a family man. His belief in a strong family unit was the driving force behind many of his activities. A devoted husband, he cared for his wife, Louise, through a long illness until her death in 1995. He supported his children in their efforts, but always insisted they be prepared by getting a good education. He is the father of Carolyn Acker Ball, Nannette Acker McDaniel, and Daniel R. Acker, Jr. He has six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Dan Acker's love of life and people and his service to the community are the hall marks by which he will be remembered.

Daniel Acker died on May 18, 1997 and is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery.