A former Shiloh mayor who led the village for two decades died Monday. He is being remembered for helping shape the village as it is today.
Norman Ralph “Red” Acker, 83, died of kidney failure related to diabetes during his stay at Cedar Ridge Health and Rehab Center in Lebanon. He had been seriously ill for about six months, according his wife of 64 years, Joan Acker.
“Everybody that knew him loved him,” Joan Acker said.
She described her husband as a no-nonsense man who loved life and always stayed busy.
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“We had a whirlwind life together.”
Acker served in the United States Marine Corps as a young man.
“He had so many skills, and he accomplished so much, and that was even with losing his sight in his left eye while in the military,” Joan Acker said.
The couple had three children — Brad, William and Monique — and moved to Shiloh in 1975. Acker built the family home on Hill Street.
William Acker said his father’s legacy lies with his “very unselfish commitment” to bring more adequate police, fire and emergency medical services to Shiloh citizens.
“He learned early on that growth was the key to accomplishing great things ... and he dedicated his life to it,” William Acker said.
Norman Acker was the village’s mayor from 1981 to 2001, then passed the baton to Jim Vernier, the current Shiloh mayor.
“I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. We lost a very good man, and I’m going to miss him,” Vernier said.
Vernier, who was a Shiloh trustee for 16 years, attributes his successful years as mayor to Acker.
“He taught me everything I know, and in fact, I wouldn’t be mayor if it wasn’t for him,” Vernier said.
During his tenure, Acker spearheaded the effort to annex farmland that surrounded the village in order to spur growth.
“Shiloh wouldn’t be what it is today without Norm. He had the vision we needed to grow,” Vernier said.
In 1981, the village had about 1,100 residents, which grew to nearly 9,000 by 2001 when he retired.
Brenda Kern, village clerk, said when she started her post in 1991, Acker showed her the ropes.
“I learned a lot from him. He was a very intelligent man who loved government and was ahead of his time in believing in open government and transparency,” Kern said.
He set the tone for what was to come with future development. He was instrumental with securing the village’s share of I-64 exit 16 in our quadrant by going to Springfield to rally for the village’s best interest and securing grant monies where needed. He put us on the map, so to speak.
Brenda Kern, Shiloh village clerk
According to Kern, Acker was proactive and wanted to see the community grow and thrive.
“And he knew we needed to grow in order to survive,” Kern said. “He set the tone for what was to come with future development. He was instrumental with securing the village’s share of I-64 exit 16 in our quadrant by going to Springfield to rally for the village’s best interest and securing grant monies where needed. He put us on the map, so to speak.”
In 2001, Shiloh welcomed Dierbergs’ Green Mount Crossing development, which Vernier said wouldn’t have come to fruition without Acker’s initiative.
“He saw the importance of annexing in order to sustain a community so we would have the land needed to make Shiloh the size it is today,” Kern said.
Vernier said Acker was more than just a mentor.
“We were good friends who went camping together and played cards a lot — he was an excellent card player. We nicknamed him ‘acronyms’ because he always had a little saying for just about everything. He was a funny guy,” Vernier said with a chuckle.
For many years, Acker served as director of St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency.
He was a longtime building trades and electronics instructor at Mater Dei High School in Breese.
“While he was there he helped the students build six houses,” Joan said.
He was a member of Shiloh United Methodist Church.
A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Shiloh Valley Township Cemetery, 207 S. Main St. in Shiloh. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Wolfersberger Funeral Home in O’Fallon.