July 9, 2011
Henry Ackerman had plans — big, cross country, into-the-wild plans.
It was 1998, and he was 48 years old, alone, sad and somewhat peculiar. He lived with threecats and a big, sandy-colored dog in an unkempt Baltimore County apartment and worked as a child psychologist in the city school system.
His beloved wife had died of leukemia four years earlier in Memphis after a long illness, and he had moved immediately afterward, first to Oregon and then to Maryland to be closer to his sister's family, acquaintances said.
But he yearned for Alaska. He reached out to a tiny school system there in the eastern part of the state,...