My family was active in a Kalamazoo area political action group called Action Now. A fairly careful web search found only one mention of the organization. So I’m following up on that site’s mention today.
I don’t think I knew Brian Dana Akers in the 1970s, but since I was working closely with his brother and knew his parents socially it’s pretty likely I met him once or twice. Anyway, he’s grown up to write science fiction and has a lengthy online autobiography on his personal website. About a quarter of the way down the page is a word portrait of his father, Owen, which includes Action Now in a long list of organizations Owen participated in. Brian’s father was as remarkable as the portrait suggests. What I think the portrait misses is that Owen’s heavy workload was fairly seamless; I had contacts with him in several of his roles and he was always the same person, working on the same causes, and finding reinforcement from his friends and colleagues as he moved from meeting to meeting. A strenuous life, yes, and not everyone loved Owen Akers, but many did.
Brian’s summation is all too true:
When someone like this dies, it’s like standing on the rim of a huge crater. Only as the crater recedes into the past do the survivors comprehend the size of the hole in their lives, appreciate the death’s force of impact, and realize all that was vaporized.
More, though. Owen was an inspiration to his friends, and to some of his opponents. That did not end when he perished.
I spent years doing political organizing. Brians’ brother, David, was one of my colleagues in those efforts–he was the key voter registration and get out the vote organizer whose activities complemented our voter contact efforts in the early 1970s. That I had his respect was always a source of satisfaction, for Dave’s commitment to the work was far greater than mine. David Akers was a formidable organizer, bringing talent and passion to everything he touched. David was quite different from his father, but equally committed to his father’s causes.
We lost contact when I moved to Lansing. I’m saddened to learn that he died fairly young.
Postscript: While I was working on this essay, iTunes delivered Rhonda Vincent’s performance of Carl Story‘s If You Don’t Love God:
If you say you love Him while you hate your neighbor
then you don’t have religion. You just told a lie.