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Dr. William Ackerly


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lyme, N.H. — William C. Ackerly, MD, of Lyme, N.H., passed away at the age of 87, on May 23, 2016, from respiratory arrest. Born in Worcester, Mass. on Aug. 23, 1928, Bill grew up in Louisville Ky., attended the Clark School in Hanover N.H., Wesleyan University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

In 1954 he married Frances Dickinson of Marion Va. After a brief stint in the army in Texas, they settled in Cambridge Mass., raising their four children. Bill was a psychiatrist and worked in state clinics for many years before entering private practice. In 1965, Bill and Frances bought a house in Lyme Center, N.H., near the Dartmouth Skiway and along the Appalachian Trail. They loved Lyme and the many friends they made over the years. Bill and Frances loved to travel, watch birds, make new friends, and share a glass of bourbon at every turn.

Frances passed away in 2011, after 57 years of marriage, and Bill moved to Lyme in 2013. In retirement, Bill was busier than ever. He shared his merriment and love with old and new friends alike, and received so much in return. He was known up and down the Appalachian Trail as the Ice Cream Man, offering ice cream, conversation, the occasional game of croquet (which he rarely lost), and respite from the trail to several thousand hikers in the final years of his life. In his last months of life, he fell in love again and was eagerly looking forward to another summer hosting hikers.

Bill was well prepared for the end of his life, including the following instructions: “I want half my ashes buried next to my dear wife Frances in Cambridge, half in Lyme, and half wherever else you want me!” His last wish was to thank all the people in Lyme who made his life so happy, and the hikers on the Appalachian Trail who stopped by for ice cream and a visit. “They are the greatest.”

He acknowledged the wonderful legacy of his wife’s love and dedication to children and education. He also expressed deep love for his children – Spaff, John, David and Susan – and their families and his grandchildren – Asa, Daniel, Jimmy, Jack, Sammy. He is also survived by three sisters – Carita, Nancy and Betsy and many nieces and nephews.

 A celebration of life, followed by a reception, will be held at Dowds’ Country Inn in Lyme, Saturday, May 28, 3 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s memory to the Lyme Foundation.