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Oklahoma City's Ray Ackerman inspired 'outsiders'

Oklahoman business writer Steve Lackmeyer reflects on legacy of the late Ray Ackerman as an “outsider” who changed Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: October 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm •  Published: October 23, 2012

Ackerman, always the salesman, repeatedly argued that with the investment made by taxpayers in restoring the waterway and the development of shoreline boathouses, it would eventually draw national attention.

Skeptics who grew up thinking the river could never fill with water because it would leak into downtown building basements scoffed at the thought of the North Canadian River becoming an attractive waterway. They scoffed at the idea that an eyesore that divided north and south Oklahoma City would earn respect even among locals.

But the Oklahoma River is making headlines nationwide and was featured prominently on national network television when the Oklahoma City Thunder made the NBA playoffs last year.

Ackerman, the one-time outsider, could only smile and say: “Steve, did you see that article in The New York Times? Steve, did you see Charles Barkley on the river cruiser?”

I admired Ackerman; I considered him a friend. Yet I, too, was one of those skeptics. Ackerman, the outsider, showed us all that with perseverance — and some slick promotion — the outsiders can bring wondrous change to our city.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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