George Acker, a Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame member, died on July 20 at the age of 83.
A three-sport star at NIU, Acker lettered in football, basketball and tennis while attending Northern Illinois from 1948-52. Acker, an offensive guard, co-captained the 1951 Huskie football team that went 9-0 and won the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) championship. He was voted to the 1950s All-Decade team during the Huskie football centennial in 1999.
On the tennis court, Acker earned letters from 1950-52 and served as team captain as both a junior and senior while playing No. 1 singles. He received his B.S. in Education from Northern Illinois in 1952 and M.S. in Administration from NIU in 1953.
After graduation, Acker served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict for two years before returning to DeKalb to become the head tennis coach and JV football coach at Northern Illinois from 1955-57.
Acker went on to join the staff at Kalamazoo College where he served as a professor and head tennis coach for 35 years from 1959-93, leading the Hornets to seven NCAA Division III team championships (1976, 1978, 1986-87, 1991-93). Acker also oversaw six individual national champions and three doubles national champions during his career at Kalamazoo College. Acker’s tennis teams won 35-straight Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) team titles and posted a record of 537-231, including a 209-1 mark in the MIAA. He was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1991 while also receiving Division III Coach of the Decade honors for the 1980s.
In addition to his work with the Kalamazoo College tennis team, Acker served as line coach with the Hornet football team from 1959-69, as head wrestling coach from 1960-74 and as head cross country coach from 1985-88. He also worked as the college’s athletic trainer and director of intramurals at different times during his career.
Kalamazoo College honored Acker with the Florence J. Lucasse Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1985, the highest faculty honor awarded by the college.
Acker was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986 and is also a member of the Kalamazoo College, Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association and Western Tennis Association Halls of Fame.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Floyd Acker, an Air Force major who lost his life serving his country.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy and daughters Judy Acker-Smith, Cindy Acker, Sherry Acker and Gigi Acker. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Kristalyn Musselman, Ashley Smith, Shannon Smith, Jason Lewis, Ryan Lewis, Shane Cooley and Andrew Cooley, as well as two grandchildren, Kohlee Musselman and Vanessa Lewis, his sister, Helen Schmidt, and sister-in-law, Kay Acker.
NIU Athletics Media Relations
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