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Jim Ackerman

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Jim Ackerman Obituary

Jim Ackerman

88, Carmel, Indiana passed away Saturday, March 2, 2013 with his loving wife of 65 years, Lois, and their children at his side. He was born March 12, 1924 in Lima, Ohio to Joseph and Miriam Ackerman. A longtime resident of the Indianapolis area, Jim was a pioneer in the cable television industry, a devoted family man, a U.S. Army veteran, and a philanthropist.

From 1971 to 1993, Jim was the CEO of Cardinal Communications, a cable television company headquartered in Indianapolis which ran cable operations throughout the state of Indiana. This company was sold in 1993 at which time it was the 70th largest cable operation in the U.S. In addition to successfully operating a cable television company, Jim had a long career financing cable companies with his first loan granted in 1958 while he was a Senior Vice President of Economy Finance and Executive Vice President of Indianapolis Morris Plan, an Indiana Industrial Bank. Jim spent 24 years with these companies before creating his own specialized cable investment firm in 1971. This firm merged in 1973 and became Becker Communication Associates, a cable TV venture capital company.

In 1984, he became Vice Chairman of Communication Equity Associates, a media brokerage firm specializing in communication companies. Jim served in this role until 1988. He also served as an advisor to Merrill Lynch from 1984 to 1987, assisting them in taking five cable-related companies public.

He was involved in many business organizations throughout his career including the roles of President of the Indiana-Illinois Cable TV Association, Director of the National Cable TV Association, Vice President and Director of the National Commercial Finance Association, Director of TCA Cable Corporation, and President and Director of the National Charge Account Bankers Association.

Upon the sale of Cardinal Communications in 1993, Jim created The Ackerman Foundation to help improve the welfare of our local and national community. For his long-term philanthropic efforts, Jim was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash in 1995 by then Governor Evan Bayh.

An avid golfer, he always referred to golf as his vocation and cable TV as his hobby. In 1994, he and his son-in-law developed one of the area's better golf courses, Prairie View Golf Club.

Fond of quoting that he could never give back to Purdue University what he received from his education, Jim created in 1994 the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship to improve the teachings of civics, ethics, and economics in schools across the nation. He also made significant gifts to the University to endow a chair in the department of Agriculture as well as to renovate the school's south golf course, now known as Ackerman Hills. In recognition of his long-standing support to the University and other causes, as well as his other leadership accomplishments, Jim was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Education degree in 2004.

Jim is survived by his wife, Lois; daughters, Barbara (Brian) Nicholoff and Leslie, and son John (Kathy); four grandchildren, Philip James Nicholoff, Justin NIcholoff, Allison Ackerman, and Jeffrey Ackerman.

A funeral service will be held Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation at 11 AM with visitation from 10 AM. Burial will follow in the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation North Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association ( or to the James F. Ackerman Transplant Surgery Research Fund at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Please make checks payable to the "IU Foundation Ackerman Transplant Fund" and mail to Indiana University Foundation, P. O. Box 660245, Indianapolis, IN 46266-0245. Please indicate "In memory of James Ackerman."

Arrangements entrusted to Aaron Ruben Nelson Mortuary. Friends may leave a memory or message of condolence by visiting the online obituary at

Published in the The Indianapolis Star on Mar. 5, 2013
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