Friends of Ackermanns' recall a life of service
July 24, 2013In the two weeks that have passed since the death of Carl & Eunice Ackermann, more details have surfaced about this very private couple. Even so, some things remain elusive, including whether there will be services for them or if they have already taken place.
One resident of the neighborhood, Tracy Kristensen, who just bought a house on Red Mountain and saw them every morning, is painting the bus stop at Mauka Drive and intends to memorialize the Ackermanns.
The Roadrunner has learned that the VC Trails Assn. has been discussing the possibility of holding a memorial walk along the Heritage Trail to remember the Ackermanns. We will keep you informed if this actually occurs.
Meanwhile, the man 20-year-old man accused of killing the Ackermanns while driving under the influence of alcohol, an active duty member of the U.S. Navy, Earl Smith Jr., was arraigned at a Vista courtroom on July 10, where he pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
He is accused of DUI and vehicular manslaughter and two other felony counts in the deaths of the Ackermanns. The Oceanside resident had been attending a party in Fallbrook the night before he allegedly struck and killed the Ackermanns around 6:15 a.m. on Old Castle Road near Muaka Drive. According to one report prosecutors say that it is possible Smith was looking at a GPS device on his phone when the crash occurred.
Bail for the accused has been set at $1 million because he is considered a risk to the public, having been convicted of a previous DUI.
However, most of the attention since the deaths has been on the life of quiet service that the Ackermanns lived. One witness who once stopped and talked to them said he told them they used to walk three miles almost every day,
picking up trash along Old Castle and Lilac Roads as a community service project.
According to reader Judy Brown, "Eunice Ackermann taught primary grades at Olive School in Vista. She retired in 1995. After retirement, they began volunteering at the 5th grade camp on Palomar Mountain. Vista Unified sent 5th graders to the camp for four days during the year; usually, five or six classes per week were there.
"The Ackermanns would drive their RV up there and work as full-time volunteers, teaching environmental science, taking the kids on hikes, teaching arts and crafts. They were a big asset to the district with the time they devoted to helping kids. As I continued to commute to Vista, I would always see them, hand in hand, picking up trash. They truly devoted their time to making the world a better place," said Brown.
Leon and Anne Schwartz told us, "My wife and I had the pleasure or knowing and considering the Ackermanns as friends. They were very private people who were deeply devoted to each other and the community.
"Carl was retired from the U.S Navy and spoke fondly of his experiences on various ships and seeing the world. Both Carl and Eunice told us they were past volunteers at the VC library and the last we heard were volunteering at the Escondido Library. They had a motor home and would spent their summers working with animals groups, teaching , assisting in the building of homes, and other work that allowed them to stay in their RV and do community service . This form of volunteering took them to Utah and Montana as well as other States.
"Gardening was also a labor of love and they shared their vegetables with others. Eunice often stated that their crop was great since they installed a large rain-gathering tank in their front yard," said Schwartz. He added, "Eunice had a brother named Donald Day who with his wife built a log cabin home about 12 years. It is located off of Lilac. Unfortunately they both passed away around ten years ago. Hopefully someone remembers them and can lead us to other members of the family, and we can learn about a service for Carl and Eunice."
So far, that has not been the case.
As an added note, the Monte Vista Elementary School, where Carl Ackermann taught for several years in the 1980s, has a Facebook page that has been active with comments on his death.
Here is one of them: "I just read the article on Mr. Ackerman! So sad. He was a great teacher. Funny how the article said he never raised his voice. That's because no one who had him as a teacher was asked! I still remember his German songs he taught us!"