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Larry Acker, respected educator and administrator of Wooster, died on March 13, 2023 in The Apostolic Christian Village in Rittman, Ohio, following a courageous battle with brain cancer. He was 83 years old.
Born on January 27, 1940, to William H. and Verda (Wile) Acker, Larry was a lifelong resident of Wayne County. He attended Shreve and Wooster Township Elementary Schools, was active in 4-H and FFA, and graduated from Wooster High School in 1958. He received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from The Ohio State University in 1962 where he was a member of the Ohio Staters service organization. He was also inducted into SPHINX, the oldest honorary at Ohio State University which annually recognizes 24 exceptional senior students with membership. He earned his master’s degree in school administration from The University of Akron.
Larry dedicated his life to education. He began his teaching career at Wellington High School, then moved to Norwayne Local Schools where he would remain for 50 years. He served 5 years as a teacher, 17 years as principal, and 28 years as superintendent. The Norwayne community benefitted from the high expectations he set and his keen financial oversight. He took impeccable care of the buildings and grounds as well as attending to the students and staff. He hired high-performing individuals who worked well together. Often students and staff received letters from him commending them on a job well done. He had a high regard for academics and Norwayne was top of the county and top of the state on school report card ratings, achieving Excellent or Excellent with Distinction under his tenure. He rallied the taxpayers to help pass a levy for construction of an impressive expansion of new buildings. He could be seen attending all areas of extra-curricular activities (academics, the arts, and athletics) which was evidence of his dedication to the district. Norwayne achieved outstanding accomplishments at the regional and state levels in many sports, highlighted in 2011 by winning the Division IV State Football Championship!
He was heavily involved in athletics at all levels. He served on the Northeast District Athletic Board of the Ohio High School Athletic Association from 1984-2007 and continued as secretary until he retired from that position in 2022 including three terms as president. In addition, he served as president on the Board of Directors of the OHSAA. In 1998 he received national recognition with the Naismith Award for Dedication and Service to Sports. His name was engraved on a plaque at the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. He recently received the National Federation of High School Sports Ohio Meritorious Service Award.
Larry and his parents were heavily involved in raising and racing Standardbred horses. Over the years he had many horses that were very successful, eventually culminating in a partnership owning of Western Coby, 2014 Ohio Sires Stakes 2-year-old Colt Pace Champion.
Larry is survived by his wife Cindy (Polchey), whom he married on July 6, 2002, in Goshen, New York, at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame at the Historic Track. They have many wonderful memories attending interscholastic sporting events at both the local and state level, traveling throughout various regions of the United States, and avoiding the harsh winters of Ohio to spend time at their home in Fort Myers, Florida.
His contributions to philanthropic causes range from the Larry & Cindy Acker Scholarships given annually to deserving Norwayne and Wooster High School seniors, provisions for various awards at the Wayne County Fair, and yearly donations to extracurricular activities at Norwayne High School. Larry was a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Wooster and also a very dedicated member of the Creston Lion’s Club for over 50 years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Betty Acker Staebell and Donna Acker Ebright, brother-in-law Melville Ebright, and nephew Scott Ebright. He is also survived by his nephew Rod Ebright (Lynn), niece Jill Ebright, and many great nieces and nephews.
Larry left a legacy of excellence. An amazing number of lives have been affected because of his commitment to serving others. His steadfast leadership, dedication, and contributions will long be remembered and appreciated by all whose lives he touched. A former Norwayne student expressed that few names have been as heralded in this community as “Larry Acker.” In appreciation of his dedication to 50 years of service at Norwayne Local Schools and his 38 years of involvement in OHSAA, the Norwayne gymnasium was named after him in 2013. When awarded this honor, he
stated, “There are more good people per square mile in Wayne County than anywhere on Earth ... the longer I am here, the more truthful that is.” He also added, “The people in the community here – the people involved with the school – really are family to me.”
Calling hours will be Sunday March 19, 2023 in The Larry Acker Gymnasium, Norwayne High School from 2-5 pm. Services will be held Monday, March 20th at 11:00 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Wooster, OH. A luncheon will be held at the church after the service and burial will take place at Plain Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Larry and Cindy Acker Scholarship Fund through the Wayne County Community Foundation (517 North Market Street, Wooster, OH 44691) Murray Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.