Dennis Alvin Ackley

Dennis Alvin Ackley, 86, died of natural causes on Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 in his home in Lac du Flambeau, and is now going home to meet his Lord.

He was born as Dennis A. Bigjohn and changed his name to Ackley, his mother’s maiden name, in 1957.

He was known as one of the last remaining elders within the Chippewa reservation. His Native American name was Midwe’yaange (meaning Echo).

Dennis is survived by his beloved children, Ken (Amy) Bigjohn of La Crosse, Ron (Lynn) Ack-ley of Shawano, Tom Ackley of Blue River, Rich Ackley (special friend, Rose) of Lac du Flambeau, Dan (Beth) Ackley of Jackson, Steve (Connie) Ackley of Osh-kosh, Denise Ackley (fiancŽ, Dean Herriges) of West Bend and Den-nis Vincent of Milwaukee.

He was also very proud of his 23 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

His beloved companion, Mollie Hanser, also survives him.

Preceding Dennis in death were his parents, Mary Ackley Potts and John Bigjohn; his sisters, Hannah, Bertha and Ra-mona; his nephews, Jerry Maul-son and Alex "Sonny Man" Maulson; his niece, Marie; and his first wife, Ruth Thomas as well as their newborn daughter.

Dennis was born in Lac du Flambeau, April 15, 1920. At age 7 he was taken from his family and sent to a boarding school in Iowa with other children from various Wisconsin Indian reservations. This was done to desensitize him from the "Indian ways" by eliminating all aspects of his Chip-pewa culture.

Upon his return to the reservation years later he spoke only English but never forgot his roots.

Dennis was employed as a parts and shipping manager at Simpson Electric in Lac du Flambeau where he met his second wife, Barbara (Landis) nŽe Melling.

He also worked as a welder on the Mackinaw Bridge to connect Upper Michigan to Lower Michigan in the mid 1950s.

After moving to West Bend, he worked for Stolper Steel in Menomo-nee Falls. He transferred to the American Motors’ facilities in Milwaukee and Kenosha, and retired after decades of employment as a welder.

He returned to the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation in 1985 where he had been honored as one of the oldest original elders who continued to speak the Ojibwa language.

He assisted in teaching the language and culture to the residents.

His hobbies included building picnic tables and trailers, playing horseshoes, cribbage and pool.

Dennis also loved to hunt and is now in "The Great Hunting Grounds in the Sky."

Cremation arrangements have been made and his remains will be dispersed on the land where he loved and lived the last years of his life, his tribe’s homeland in Lac du Flambeau.

A memorial service for Dennis will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Lakeland Assemblies of God Church, Highway J, Wood-ruff, with Pastor Wendell Ander-son officiating.

Family and friends are invited to attend and celebrate his life.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be forwarded to the Ameri-can Heart Association in Dennis’ name.

The Bolger Funeral Home, Minocqua, is assisting the family.