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Harry W. Ackley, Father of Westport Fire Chief

Longtime Southport resident Harry W. Ackley, father of Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley, died Feb. 18 at the age of 95. A World War II veteran, he was a one-time volunteer with the Southport Fire Department.

Ackley was born in Bridgeport on Aug. 15, 1915. As a young man, he would collect pieces of coal from the train tracks near his home to help heat his family’s home. He also made extra money during the 1930s driving a bread truck for A&P grocery.

When World War II began, Ackley joined the Navy and served as a steamfitter in Italy and North Africa. After the war, he took up work as a master plumber and steamfitter. He worked for many years at General Electric, where he he once saved a man’s life after a chlorine line ruptured. Ackley rushed the man to safety, suffering chronic gas inhalation complications and breathing problems as a result.

Outside of his work, Ackley served as president of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department. He was also a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, an honorary member of the Theta Sigma fraternity at the University of Bridgeport and a former member of the Fairfield Rotary Club.

Ackley was predeceased by his wife, Rita Neupert Ackley. Survivors, in addition to his son Christopher and his wife, Jill, of Shelton, are two other children, Harry R. Ackley, a retired Fairfield fire captain, and his wife, Karen, and Rosemary Markoja and her husband, Steven, of Meriden; a brother, Elton Ackley of Stratford; a brother-in-law, Frederick Neupert of Stratford; seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews and his long-time companion, Annie Rodak of Fairfield.

A Mass will be celebrated Thursday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield. Interment with naval honors will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to either the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Connecticut, 306 Industrial Park Road, Suite 107, Middletown, CT 06457 or the Get in Touch Foundation, P.O. Box 2144, Milford, CT 06460.

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