Former Sonics owner Barry Allen Ackerley: 1935 — 2011 | Passages


Barry Allan Ackerley, entrepreneur, husband, father and grandfather, died early in the morning on March 21.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Mr. Ackerley earned his B.S. in Business from the University of Iowa in 1956. He served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958 and was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Mr. Ackerley’s distinguished career in media and advertising began in New York in 1958 in sales for Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

In 1963, he joined Stoner Outdoor Advertising and found his calling.

He proved himself a highly capable operator with a strong acumen for business and in 1965, the Garvey Family of Kansas asked him to launch and operate Advan, a new outdoor advertising company that began with operations in Fresno and Bakersfield, Calif., and expanded in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

After building Advan into a highly successful and profitable business, Mr. Ackerley founded Golden West Outdoor with operations in Sacramento, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Colo. In 1972, he was approached by his friend and fellow outdoor advertising colleague, Karl Eller, who asked him to run his national sales office for Combined Communications, an outdoor and broadcast media company based in New York.

Ever the entrepreneur, in 1975 Mr. Ackerley purchased Obie Media in Seattle, Wash. This company would become the foundation on which a national media and entertainment empire would be built, one day becoming The Ackerley Group, Inc., listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

In 2002, when The Ackerley Group, Inc. was acquired by Clear Channel Worldwide, the company owned and operated 18 television stations, five radio stations and outdoor advertising operations in six states and over 20 markets.

In 1983, Mr. Ackerley purchased the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association to ensure the team would remain in Seattle, Wash. Over the next 18 years, the Sonics became the region’s most successful professional sports franchise.

During his tenure as owner, the Sonics appeared in the NBA playoffs 13 times, which included four Pacific Division Championships, one Western Conference Championship and an appearance in the 1996 NBA Finals. Ever the innovator, Mr. Ackerley was one of the first sports owners in America to broadcast the team’s games on both radio and television stations that he owned, reaching more Sonics fans than ever before.

Mr. Ackerley’s record of community service and philanthropy both professionally and personally spanned over three decades and impacted communities across America.Through Ackerley Corporate Giving, the philanthropic arm of The Ackerley Group, the company annually contributed 6 percent of its annual gross revenues in cash and in-kind services to the communities it served. Additionally, in 1997, Mr. Ackerley and his wife Ginger established The Ginger and Barry Ackerley Foundation which focuses on early childhood education throughout the state of Washington.

Mr. Ackerley was the recipient of many lifetime achievement awards.

Among them were the Roosevelt High School (Des Moines, Iowa) Alumnus of the Year and the Sigma Chi Fraternity’s Significant Sig Award. Along with his wife Ginger, Mr. Ackerley received the Corporate Council for the Arts Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award, the Anti-Defamation League’s — Torch of Liberty Award, Junior Achievement’s Stanley O. McNaughton Award and became a Laureate of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Hall of Fame.

Mr. Ackerley was a deeply devoted family man. He enjoyed boating in the Pacific Northwest with his family; summers on San Juan Island with his grandchildren and winters in the California desert with family and friends.

Mr. Ackerley is survived by his wife Ginger, his daughter Kim Ackerley Cleworth, his two sons Christopher and Ted Ackerley, and seven grandchildren — Henry, Atty, Charlie, Anabelle, Benjamin, Hunter and Ashley.

Memorial services will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 — 10th Avenue East, Seattle, Wash., with the Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr. presiding. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be directed to: Eisenhower Medical Hospital/Foundation — 39000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270.

— Family of Barry Ackerley