In Memory

Frank Ackerman VIEW PROFILE

Frank Ackerman

This memorial was written by Frank's wife, Becky Sarah. Here is her email for any of you who would like to write to her.

Frank got to do a lot of the things he loved in his 72 years.

His work was endlessly fascinating and meaningful to him; towards the end of his life he wrote that economics was “the application of mathematical tools to contemporary problems.” He found many ways to apply his remarkable intellect, writing skills, and quantitative talents to public policy and protecting the environment.

Frank was a conscientious objector, under the draft law, for two years, then went to graduate school in economics at Harvard, where he earned at PhD. Early in his working life, he co-founded the magazine Dollars and Sense, (which is still alive) and he worked there for years.  He then spent most of his career in  environmental and public policy economics, first at Tellus Institute, later at  Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), and then at Synapse Energy Economics.   He also taught economics and statistics at several universities. In his last years of work, at Synapse Energy Economics, his expert testimony in the Juliana case and for the Sierra Club were especially meaningful to him. He published many books, and many academic articles.  Detailed information is on his website

Frank said that that Swarthmore had prepared him well.  He was taught, and challenged and intellectually equipped there for what he wanted to do in life.  He hoped his grandchildren would consider Swarthmore.

Frank had two daughters, Robin Ackerman and Janet Ackerman, both with his first wife, Kathy Moore, (Swarthmore ’69, now deceased).  He had two stepchildren, Jessie Stickgold-Sarah and Cory Skuldt, by marriage to Becky Sarah.

His grandchildren are Ronan, Emlin, Finn, and Violet.

He  loved being a father, grandfather, and husband. In the last years of his life grandchildren were a particular joy. Carrying a toddler on his shoulders on a neighborhood walk, playing goofy games with preschoolers, reading to little children, and exploring robot and electronics projects with them as they got older, and knowing that his oldest grandson, who was 16 at the time, was starting to read Frank’s books.

He was an enthusiastic and inventive cook. He came back from international travels with ideas, from the cuisines of countries he visited, and tried them at home; he especially liked to cook for friends and family, although trying to make something bland that picky children would eat was not so much fun.

Frank was funny, known for gentle sarcasm that could lighten any situation and was never at anyone’s expense.  He was also well-known among his colleagues for wry, amusing chapter titles, or article titles on very serious academic writing.  He referenced song titles or metaphors or ironic turns of phrase for these.  “Still Dead After All These Years,” was a classic Frank journal article title.

He played the trumpet off and on since high school, and then more seriously after his children grew up. He joined the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, which plays for fun, and at demonstrations and social justice events around the Boston area.  At the request of his wife, Becky Sarah, the band played a New Orleans Jazz Funeral for him, including a sorrowful march through the streets from his home to a local venue where friends and colleagues and family mourned his passing, shared their memories of him, and at the end danced to the band’s celebration of his life.

Many people around him noticed that he respected everybody, and he liked and appreciated people whose talents and interests were very different from his own.

He is greatly missed, in his profession and his family and community. But the good he did in the world is still here.,

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01/17/20 04:38 PM #1    

Mark Sherkow

I talked with Frank several times at our 50th reunion.  A wonderful person.  So sorry to hear that he has passed away.

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