Pequot Lakes lost one of its passionate representatives with the Wednesday, Oct. 14, death of Jerry Akerson at age 64.
Akerson fought health issues for much of his last two years on the city council, missing all but three meetings in 2019 and requiring a temporary appointment to fill his seat. He is remembered well by the people who worked alongside him performing the city's business for the last 10 years, and in the early 2000s. For one former mayor, that remembrance goes back much further.
"I was a teacher at Pequot Lakes when he went to high school there," said Dave Sjoblad. "Then I transferred to the community college and when he came and took some night classes there I was kind of like an adviser to him."
Sjoblad remembers Akerson's sense of humor and professionalism.
"He had a real good sense of humor," Sjoblad said. "And he had a real fun streak and liked to tease and kid in a nice way, not hurtful. Most of the time on the city council we were on opposite ends of whatever the issue was. We voted different, but that didn't make any difference to him. We just talked to each other and were respectful. He had his views and I had mine and he never held a grudge. We agreed to disagree and had a nice relationship."
To others, Akerson's pride for the city left a lasting impression.
"I remember him always caring about the community. I believe he was born in the area and raised here. Pequot Lakes was very important to him," said former City Administrator Nancy Malecha. "He always tried to look out for and serve the entire community. He wasn't just focused on businesses or residents separately. He looked at the community as a whole and was always very proud of Pequot. Very proud of his family, loved his grandchildren dearly and talked about them quite often. They always brought a smile to his face when he talked about them."
"I think he spent his entire life in Pequot Lakes," said council member Scott Pederson. "I think his grandfather even lived here if I remember right. He had long, deep roots in town. I know that's what he brought to the city government as well."
Sjoblad recalled how much time and effort Akerson put into the city's low income senior living properties. And, even when he disagreed with something, he remained a team player.
"I was involved in getting the library started in town, and he was kind of against it," Sjoblad said. "Later, he was on the committee as a liaison person to the library and took a huge interest in it."
Pederson remembered how he fought to keep taxes down.
"He was always looking for a very conservative budget and did not want to see taxes raised," Pederson said.
Akerson served one city council term in the early 2000s and was in the middle of his third consecutive four-year council term with his seat set to expire at the end of 2022. The city council will be asked at its Tuesday, Nov. 10, meeting to declare a council vacancy and then will need to decide how to fill the remainder of Akerson's term, which could include appointing someone or taking applications for appointment.
Akerson died peacefully at the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. A visitation was held Sunday, Oct. 18, at Kline Funeral Home in Pequot Lakes.
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.