Traveling throughout Florida after World War II, William Akers Jr. searched for a new home to raise his family and run a hotel.
He happened upon the remote, undeveloped sand dunes in north Volusia County and became a business leader in the community he helped to rename as Ormond Beach, said his son, William Akers III.
William Akers Jr. died Friday, May 27, after complications of a stroke. He was 92.
A native of Atlanta, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and married his high-school sweetheart, Georgia Oliver. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago. During World War II, he served in the Army, ranking as a captain.
He visited several Florida cities after the war, including Naples and southeast Florida, searching for a place where he could run a motel, just as his own father did in Tampa, his son said.
"He stumbled upon Ormond and liked it. There was nothing on the beach then, literally. It was sand dunes for miles and miles," said the son, who was 1 year old when his family moved to Florida. "He liked the remoteness of it."
His father found a set of beach cottages, fixed them up and expanded the business, called the Coral Sands Beach Cottages, on State Road A1A.
Promoting Ormond became a priority, and he became active in several business organizations. During his term as president of the local chamber of commerce, he was instrumental in convincing town leaders to change the name of the community from the town of Ormond to the city of Ormond Beach, said his son.
What his son remembers most is his subtle manner with people. "He was reserved, and I never saw him excited, never heard him curse, never head him yell out in anger, ever."
He used that subtle manner to direct his sons, William III, an attorney, and John, a surgeon, to pursue good educations. And he helped others with school, as well, being instrumental in starting a Rotary scholarship that has helped 45 students and in donating to local schools. "I also know of a few students that needed help, and he just gave out of his pocket," his son said.
Hunting and golf were his favorite pursuits. He enjoyed duck hunting in Mosquito Lagoon, quail hunting in other areas of Central Florida and even traveled to hunt in Texas and Mexico.
Over his life, he played about 8,000 rounds of golf, often enjoying friendly wagers with his buddies. He made about 11 holes-in-one, his son said.
He is survived by his wife; his sister, Ida Morris, of Atlanta; his two sons, William III and Dr. John O. Akers, both of Ormond Beach; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Haigh-Black Funeral Home, Ormond Beach, is handling arrangements.
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