Ask anyone in the Greater Pittston area what they think of when they hear the word “optimist” and I will bet that unanimously they would say, “Ed Ackerman.”
Recently, Ed wrote his weekly column using a quote that I had verbalized to him about “there always being time if it’s important enough” as the title and subject. I am writing in response not because I feel beholden to him for writing about me but because, like so many others who know Ed, feel beholden to him for positively impacting so many lives.
For decades, Ed Ackerman has forged a reputation and a living legacy that few can even begin to imagine. Over these many years, Ed has shared personal heartache and experience not to garner sympathy or self-promotion but to demonstrate to us all, optimism and hope. Although some of his stories are reflections of such personal experiences, a vast majority are about others who have impacted him in a very special way. Even more so, many of these stories involve unassuming people who in a very subtle way, change the world around them.
As I was driving to work this morning, and, yes, as his column about me indicated, a lengthy 2-plus hour commute, I heard someone on the radio proclaim, “As I breathe – I hope” (a slogan from one of our southern states). Ironically, this was the exact same time I was thinking about writing this response about Ed! “As I breathe – I hope,” creates the same sense of optimism as does the words we hear weekly from our friend, Ed.
Those of you who have never had the privilege of meeting Ed in person (there may be a few of you out there) but follow his column, can be assured that the image you have of him based on his writings is accurate. I hear him described as genuine, selfless, giving, caring, understanding, accepting and yes, optimistic — I can go on and on. Ed is, in many respects, a local treasure. Ed also has no ego and would be completely against my writing this accolade and would definitely say, “There are so many others who are treasures,” followed by a specific story about someone locally who may have turned a desperate situation into a successful ending. He has hundreds of these stories and believes wholeheartedly in every last one. Ed is a believer in people and understands the inherent good in everyone. Ed is also strong in his beliefs and is guided by his solid convictions and spirituality. Coincidences may exist in life but in Ed’s world, they are guided.
Another thought that cannot go unmentioned is Ed’s pride and commitment to the Greater Pittston area. He beams with pride whenever he speaks of our neighbors and their accomplishments. Ed truly admires and often speaks of the unique and invaluable geographic area we call Greater Pittston. It doesn’t matter what side of the river you reside or work, it’s the people, places and things that some of us may take for granted. Not Ed Ackerman — not for one second.
Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I think he must have had a person like Ed Ackerman in mind when he spoke these words.
At the risk of furthering embarrassing our good friend Ed, I offer a collective thank you for always believing in us.