John William Acuff Jr. died June 25, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla., a city he loved dearly and that had been his home since high school. He was 63.
Acuff was born April 28, 1955 in Melbourne, Fla., to John William Acuff Sr. and Marion Swanda Acuff Ebersole. His family traveled to many places before settling in Jacksonville for his high school years. He attended the University of Georgia on a ROTC scholarship briefly, then spent a stint in the merchant marine, and served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard, joining up with his brother Michael. He served on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless during the Mariel boatlift.
Acuff Jr. later moved to Jacksonville, where he worked as a newsroom clerk writing obituaries and briefs at The Florida Times-Union, attended classes, and played guitar by ear for friends at home in the Riverside neighborhood. He moved to Charlotte, N.C., in 1986 and worked at The Charlotte Business Journal and then The Charlotte Observer, where he was a circulation district manager. He was a member of the Masons.
He came from a line of frontier people and soldiers, with his grandfather, Albert Gaines Acuff, born in Rising Fawn, Ga., and moving to central Florida. His father, John William Acuff Sr., was born in Lake Wales, Florida, and served in the Coast Guard for 21 years during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, bringing along the family of three boys and his wife in travels to Thailand, Hawaii, Virginia, and Florida.
Acuff Jr. was proud of being a true Florida native, born in Melbourne, and even North Carolina winters chilled him to the bone. He returned to Jacksonville from Charlotte in 2005. He was happiest fishing in Florida's rivers or being near a marsh or beach.
At his best, he was charming, brilliant, handsome, and religious, blending Southern Baptist Bible knowledge with a respect for Eastern religions.
Acuff is survived by his daughter, Sarah Allison Acuff of Carrboro and Charlotte, N.C.; mother, Marion Swanda Acuff Ebersole, and brothers, Michael Scott Acuff and Keith Patrick Acuff, all of Jacksonville, Fla.
A memorial service will be held later. Arrangements are being held by Naugle Funeral Home.
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Published by Florida Times-Union on Jul. 3, 2018.