The Chapter hereby honors and memorializes our Chapter’s Founding Member and Dean Emeritus, Dr. W. Raymond Ackerman. Ray passed away on October 2, 2021.
Dr. Wadlziu Raymond Ackerman was born in Washington DC on June 17, 1936. His seldom-used first name traces to a beloved and wealthy Polish uncle of the same name. Since Ray was next in line to use this family name, it became part of his full legal name.
Ray began piano and organ training at age 10 and was appointed organist at Fellowship Methodist Church in Lowell MA at age 15. Subsequently he served in the US Army and was educated at University of Massachusetts-Lowell MA, Boston University and University of Toronto. Ray’s private organ instructors included Healy Willan, George Faxon, and Joan Lippincott. He also studied with distinguished organists at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London UK. While in London Ray was chosen to present a command performance for Her Majesty, the Queen Mother.
Ray made significant contributions to choral and organ music in New England and served 12 years as a faculty member of the Colby Institute of Church Music in Waterville ME. He also had a distinguished career as Music Director of Pilgrim Congregational Church in Lexington MA. There he became well known as an accomplished teacher of blend and musicianship of church choirs.
Ray held numerous church positions in the Eastern United States and Canada and performed many organ recitals at several well-known venues including the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen MA and the Hammond Museum in Gloucester MA. He has also performed at Conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society.
After eight years of dedicated service at St. Columbkille Roman Catholic Church in Boston MA and nineteen years as chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the Bromfield School in Harvard MA, Ray was recruited in 1999 to serve as Director of Music Ministries and Organist at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church on Hilton Head Island SC. This was followed by service as Organist at Bluffton United Methodist Church in 2004. He went on to serve a Lutheran church in Rincon GA and Port Royal United Methodist Church in Port Royal SC.
In 1999 Ray was instrumental in the founding of the Low Country Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He served several terms as Dean of the Chapter. He was an inspiration to all who served with him in the Low Country of South Carolina.