Willem "Bill" Otto Akkerman
After 88 years, the last 62 of which he lived in Canada, the last 53 in Stellarton and the last 50 as a passionately proud Canadian citizen, Willem "Bill" Otto Akkerman (Opa) passed away peacefully on July 5th in the loving comfort of his family.
It is doubtful anyone in Canada quite knew what was in store when he arrived in Montreal in 1956 as a 26 year old immigrant from the Netherlands. A brilliant mind, an irrepressible and intense personality, boundless intellectual curiosity and a limitless capacity for a good joke combined left an indelible impact on just about everyone he met.
After a few short years in Toronto where he both met and married Gerrie, his loving wife of 59 years and began his family, he seized on the opportunity in 1965 to move to Stellarton to help build and launch the new Clairtone Sound Corporation manufacturing facility. While the company ceased operations after only a few short years, its impact on Pictou County, the nascent world color television and stereophonic markets and Bill himself especially was profound. It was the defining signature experience of his career. More importantly the bond between his family and Pictou County was permanently forged. It was here and with Amtek that his professional technical pursuits would endure for many more years.
A fiercely loyal Canadian, his longstanding love of his Harley Davidson motorcycle, notwithstanding, it was hard to keep a dry eye when he recounted the emotional euphoria of seeing Canadian soldiers arrive to liberate his home town of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands in 1945. Many themselves were from Pictou County and he took it upon himself on many occasions to express his unfathomable gratitude paying tribute to them all while speaking at local schools and annual remembrance day services.
He will be also well remembered for his humanitarian contributions. A Paul Harris fellow he was a longstanding Rotarian serving as President of both the Westville and later Stellarton chapters. The Stellarton Presbyterian Church, the Church’s men’s club and the amateur radio club were amongst his long list of interests and pursuits.
He leaves behind Gerrie (nee Kleiboer) his wife of 59 years, his children, John (New York), Bentley (Jane) Saint John, Grace (Toronto) and Otto (Alison) Toronto and seven adoring grandchildren - Adam, Megan, Marika, Elsalene, Robert, Avery and Grant.
Visitation will be held from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm Saturday, July 7th at the H.C. MacQuarrie Funeral Chapel on Acadia Avenue in Stellarton. A service in celebration of his life will be held at the Stellarton Presbyterian Church at 1 pm on Sunday, July 8th, a reception in the church hall and internment to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Presbyterian church or a charity of your choice.
He touched so many. We’ll miss him dearly.