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Statue unveiling will honor Ray Ackerman's advocacy of the Oklahoma River

Ray Ackerman, often referred to as “Old Man River” in respect to his longtime advocacy for development of the Oklahoma River, will be honored with a statue set to be unveiled Friday.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 18, 2012
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Ray Ackerman, often referred to as “Old Man River” in respect to his longtime advocacy for development of the Oklahoma River, will be honored with a statue set to be unveiled Friday.

The statue, the first installation of public art along the river, will be set in Regatta Park by the Chesapeake Boathouse, 725 S Lincoln Blvd. The unveiling at 1:30 p.m. will be open to the public.

Speakers will include longtime civic leader Lee Allan Smith, Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, Mayor Mick Cornett and Ackerman.

Ackerman is founder and chairman emeritus of Ackerman McQueen Advertising Agency, the state's largest and oldest advertising agency. He served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years and retired from the Reserves as a rear admiral.

His promotion of the river dates to the mid-1980s, when he pressed the city's riverfront redevelopment authority to conduct engineering studies to establish cost estimates for construction of river dams. The river then was a neglected, often-dry waterway that was derided as needing to be mowed three times a year.

Ackerman, as chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber in the early 1990s, campaigned to add transformation of seven miles of the waterway into a scenic river as part of the city's original Metropolitan Area Projects. The studies he asked for in the 1980s served as a basis for adding the dams and improvements onto the MAPS ballot.

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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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