Community celebrates lives of Carl and Eunice Ackermann (Video)
Memorial at Escondido Public Library honors retired teachers who were tragically hit by a car
Carl and Eunice Ackermann walk along Old Castle Road in this undated photograph. Photo by Nikki Paredes/ contributed
September 10, 2013Local residents gathered Sept. 7 to bid farewell to the couple known for regularly strolling along Old Castle Road over the past three decades.
Carl and Eunice Ackermann died July 7 when they were struck by a car while walking on that same road early in the morning. Carl was 79 and Eunice was 78. The accused driver of that car, Earl Smith, Jr., has pled not guilty to two counts of felony driving under the influence and two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter.
Since their tragic passing, people from all over Southern California have come forward with tales of the couple's devotion, sincerity, and charitable spirit. Friends, family, and coworkers gathered in the children's section of the Escondido Public Librarylast Saturday to celebrate the lives of an exceptional couple who tended to keep to themselves.
Watch the memorial on Roadrunner TV
"It is a consolation and befitting that we are able to pay our respects to them at a place that they loved," said Cynthia Smith, assistant city librarian. "They stood for educating and discovery through learning and reading. They stood for giving back to the community through volunteering and dedicated service."
The memorial service featured opening music by a harpist, readings by two of the librarians, and a bagpipe performance of Amazing Grace.
"There were so many great things and unique things about Carl and Eunice," said Hilary Trzynka, niece of the Ackermanns. During the memorial she spoke about how grateful she was for the outpouring of sympathy from the community. "I hope that in their memory you will continue to think about the good works they did and continue to contribute to the society yourselves as they might have," said Trzynka.
Charles Moore, brother-in-law to the Ackermanns, also spoke at the service about the couple's special strategy for protecting their unique postage box.
"I've known them for 50 years, and they're going to be missed," Moore said. "Carl and Eunice had a pink mailbox. They always went down in the evening and took it off. Then they would go down in the morning and put the mailbox back up, so the kids didn't get to play mailbox baseball."
Carl Ackerman was a U.S. Navy veteran who married his wife in the 1970s. They both eventually retired from teaching elementary school.
The Ackermanns are survived be their niece and nephew, Hilary and Andrew Trzynka. Carl also has three children in Illinois from a previous marriage, daughter Margaret Ackermann Jones and sons John and Charles Ackermann, as well as eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Their commitment to community went well beyond teaching. Gloria Johnson, who worked with Carl Ackermann at Monte Vista Elementary School, remembered him as a reliable and organized man who was ready to volunteer for anything.
"He was the best substitute you could ask for," said Johnson. "We knew that if Carl came into our room, everything would be done just right." Carl taught 5th grade while at Monte Vista, but he taught many grade levels at other schools and as a substitute.
They also volunteered at hospitals for the elderly, worked at youth camps, repaired an animal shelter, and participated in a dinosaur dig in Montana.
"They're remembered by friends, family, and neighbors alike as a loving couple who were deeply devoted to each other," said Smith. The Ackermanns volunteered at the library every Monday for 15 years, working diligently and quietly in the children's section each week.
Hobbies such as gardening displayed the versatility of their expertise. Leon Schwartz — a Valley Center resident and friend of the Ackermanns for more than 14 years — said Eunice collected rainwater run-off from her roof to take care of her prized oranges, apricots, squash, and zucchini.
Art was also one of their passions. They were regular benefactors to the Hemet Community Concert Association. Diane Mitchell, Artistic Director at the Association, recalled how Carl turned down an invitation to the annual benefactor's banquet.
"He was very concerned that all their donation money be spent on artists' expenses," said Mitchell. "We in Hemet were grateful for their contribution to the cultural life of our community, and they will be missed that far away."
The Ackermanns meant so many things to so many people, even those who barely knew them. In Valley Center, memories of the couple shall remained tied to their daily walks along Old Castle Road where they left this world together amidst the landscape they loved dearly.
"They were just an adorable couple," said Eveleen Crouthamel, who worked with the Ackermanns at the library. "They will be greatly missed."