Elias "Bo" Ackal

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Elias "Bo" Ackal, Jr.

Louisiana State Representative
for District 48 (Iberia
and St. Martin parishes)
In office
1972–1996
Preceded by Multi-district delegation:

J. Richard "Dickie" Breaux
Carl W. Bauer
Helen L. Laperouse

Succeeded by Errol "Romo" Romero

Member of the
Iberia Parish School Board
In office
1964–1972

Born November 15, 1934
New Iberia, Louisiana, USA
Died October 14, 1999 (aged 64)
Resting place Holy Family Cemetery and Mausoleum in New Iberia
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Dalel Helo Ackal (married 1955–1999, his death)
Children Camille, Paul, Kalil, John, and Elias, Ackal II

Rose-Mary Ackal Peters
Parents:
Elias, Sr., and Mary Abrusley Ackal

Residence New Iberia, Louisiana
Alma mater University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Occupation Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic
Military Service
Service/branch Louisiana Army National Guard
Years of service 1953-1969

Elias Ackal, Jr., known as Bo Ackal (November 25, 1934 – October 14, 1999),[1] was a Democratic politician from New Iberia, , Louisiana, who served as a state representative from 1972 to 1996 for District 48, which includes Iberia Parish and one precinct of St. Martin Parish.[2] He resigned in the first year of his last House term to join the administration of Republican Governor Murphy James "Mike" Foster, Jr., as the special assistant for budgeting and taxation. Three years later, he was dead of cancer.[3]

Background

Ackal was the son of a Lebanese-American couple, Elias Ackal, Sr. (1895–1950), and the former Mary Abrusley (died 1979).[4] He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.[5] From 1953 to 1969, he was a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard, which awarded him in 1981 the "Distinguished Civilian Service Award." From 1955 to 1972, when he entered the legislature, he operated his family's Ackal's General Store and Ackal's Real Estate. From 1979 to 1988, Ackal was the public relations officer and director of the Bank of Iberia. He was affiliated with the Roman Catholic men's organization, the Knights of Columbus, the Woodmen of the World, and the Optimist Club. From 1964 to 1972, Ackal was a member of the Iberia Parish School Board.[3]

Ackal and his wife of forty-four years, the former Dalel Helo, from Crowley in Acadia Parish, had five sons, Camille, Paul, Kalil, John, and Elias, III, and a daughter, Rose-Mary Ackal Peters. He had nine grandchildren. His sister was Edna Ackal Brower. Two other siblings preceded him in death, a brother, Camille Peter Ackal (1924-1955), and a sister, Jeanette Catherine Ackal (1927-1985); they are interred beside their parents at St. Peter's Cemetery in New Iberia.[3][4]

Legislative service

Originally a legislative ally of Edwin Edwards, who became governor for the first of his four nonconsecutive terms in 1972,[6] Ackal rarely faced substantial opposition in his House races. In 1991, for instance, he polled 9,630 votes (62.3 percent) against his lone opponent, Republican attorney, Michael David Lopresto[7] (born June 1955), who is listed in 2015 as a registered Democrat by the Louisiana Secretary of State. Lopresto received 5,841 ballots (37.8 percent).[7]

Ackal served on the House Appropriations Committee for ten years and was the chairman from 1992 until 1996 and vice chairman from 1988 to 1996. He was the vice chairman of the Joint Committee on the Budget for four years of his twenty years in the office. He was chairman and vice chairman of the Acadiana legislative delegation, the Interim Emergency Board, and the chairman of the House Legislative Services Committee. He was a member of the Joint Capital Outlay Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, Louisiana Bond Commission, and the trustees of the Louisiana State Employees Office of Group Benefits.[3]

In the 1980 legislative session, Ackal introduced a legislative pay increase which carried in the House by a narrow margin. Colleague Ron Gomez of Lafayette noted that some veteran legislators, such as J. Luke LeBlanc, father of later Representative Jerry Luke LeBlanc, urged the newer members to vote for the measure even though the senior representatives would be voting against it. These House members expected the measure to pass and while they would benefit financially, voters would not hold them accountable because the electorate would not remember the pay increase by the time of the next election. In this particular case, the actual raise turned out to be minimal, less than $600 per year.[6]

Death and legacy

Ackal died at the age of sixty-four. Services were held at St. Peter Catholic Church in New Iberia. He is interred at Holy Family Cemetery and Mausoleum. One of his pallbearers was former legislative colleague Clyde Kimball of Pointe Coupee Parish; among the honorary pallbearers were House colleagues Charlie Melancon, later a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives from Assumption Parish, and John Alario of Jefferson Parish, the former president of the Louisiana State Senate. Alario said of his friend:

Most people will remember Bo Ackal as a state official -- I will remember him not only as a dedicated public servant, but as a dear friend. Bo always had the state's best interest at heart, and he worked tirelessly for his constituents and all citizens of Louisiana. Bo Ackal touched many lives during his lifetime, and I am so grateful that he touched mine. He will be sorely missed.[3]

Then state House Speaker Huntington "Hunt" Downer said of Ackal:

Although he is gone, Bo Ackal will always be an icon in Louisiana politics. He is a perfect example of the sacrifice and untiring work public servants do, and that we hear so little about. Bo was a giving person who genuinely cared about our state and her citizens. He always had his fellow man's interest at heart. He will live forever in our memories and we will certainly feel his loss.[3]

In August 1999, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism named the main road and conference center at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park in Iberia Parish in Ackal's honor. The city of New Iberia honored him by naming a newly constructed gazebo/bandstand and meditation garden at City Park the "Elias 'Bo' Ackal, Jr. Meditation Garden and Gazebo." [3] The Louisiana Highway 87 bridge over Bayou Teche on Lewis Street in Iberia Parish is also named in Ackal's honor.[8]

References

  1. Elias "Bo" Ackal, Jr.. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  2. Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives: Iberia and St. Martin parishes. house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved on June 24, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Public Servant Elias "Bo" Ackal, Jr., Succumbs to Cancer. house.legis.state.la.us (October 14, 1999). Retrieved on June 24, 2015; material no longer on-line.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Elias Ackal, Sr.. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  5. "Louisiana: Ackal, Elias "Bo", Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 767.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ron Gomez (2006). My Name Is Ron, and I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative 44–45. iUniverse. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
  8. Justin Hall (April 8, 2011). Namesakes:Bridge, overpass get DOTD markers. The Daily Iberian. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.