Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Former Seattle SuperSonics Owner Barry Ackerley Dies at 76

Mar 21, 2011, 20:56 ET from Ackerley Partners

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Barry Allan Ackerley, former Chairman and CEO of The Ackerley Group, proud owner of the Seattle SuperSonics for 18 years, devoted family man and philanthropist died early Monday morning at Eisenhower Medical Center with his family at his side after suffering a stroke on Saturday.  Mr. Ackerley was 76.

"We are going to miss the great love and support of our husband, father and grandfather.  He was larger than life and was a man of great integrity, humor and generosity.  Above all else, he always put family first.  We are grateful that the illness that he battled bravely for so many years is now in the past, and he is at peace with our Lord."

Ginger Ackerley and The Ackerley Family

Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1934 and a graduate of the University of Iowa, Ackerley began a long and distinguished career in media and entertainment in advertising sales for Better Homes & Garden magazine in New York.  In 1963 Barry joined Stoner Outdoor Advertising and found his calling.  The Garvey Family of Kansas admired Mr. Ackerley's business acumen and in 1965 they asked him to launch and operate Advan, a new outdoor advertising company in Fresno and Bakersfield, Calif.  After building Advan into a highly successful company, Ackerley founded Golden West Outdoor with operations in Sacramento, CA and Colorado Springs, CO which he ran successfully until 1972 when his friend and outdoor advertising colleague Karl Eller called and asked him to run his national sales office for Combined Communications, an outdoor and broadcast media company based in New York.

Ever the entrepreneur, in 1975 Ackerley purchased Obie Media in Seattle, WA., which was later renamed The Ackerley Group, Inc., a nationally recognized media and entertainment company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.  At the time of its sale to Clear Channel Communications, Inc. in 2001, The Ackerley Group owned television, radio and outdoor advertising in six states and over 20 markets.  

In 1983 Ackerley purchased the Seattle SuperSonics to ensure the team remained in Seattle.  Over the next 18 years the Sonics were arguably the region's most successful professional sports franchise.  The Sonics accomplishments under his tenure included 13 playoff appearances which included Four Pacific Division Titles, One Western Conference Championship and an appearance in the 1996 NBA Finals.  Ever the innovator, Ackerley was one of the first sports owners to broadcast games on both radio and television stations that he owned reaching more Sonics fans than ever before.

"I feel very blessed to have known and worked for Barry Ackerley," said Nate McMillan.  "I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity he gave me to work in the NBA for 15 years. The thing I'll remember most about Barry was the passion he had for his players, team and community.  I'm sadden to learn of his passing and my thoughts and prayers go out to Mrs. Ackerley, the Ackerley family and all those who knew and loved him."

In addition to his many achievements in business, Ackerley was a devoted family man and a pillar of the community who was saddened when the Sonics left the Puget Sound area.  The Ackerley Group and the Ginger and Barry Ackerley Foundation are well known for their philanthropy and generosity to many non-profit organizations throughout many communities across America.

SOURCE Ackerley Partners