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Our Town: Marianne Ackerman

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The Sopris Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before as a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week, we caught up with Marianne Millard Ackerman — not to be confused with her neé Quigley counterpart. A mother of three, she has filled many roles and lived many lives, from growing up in the San Francisco Bay area to doing production for The Valley Journal and other local papers to doing early computer work for KDNK’s Labor of Love auction to helping run Ackerman Log and Timber to manning the desk for Colorado Mountain College. 


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What brought you out here?

ACKERMAN:  In a previous life, I was an professional equestrian. I started when I was a kid and kept doing it into my 20s, when I was hired by Sandy Smith who had a ranch at the time up in Missouri Heights. I remember being invited to join the Roaring Fork Hounds Fox Hunt, and being the good pony clubber that I am, I showed up completely spit-polished in my formal attire, and people were all in western saddles with ski parkas on.

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Q: What made you stay?

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A: I looked at the map at the trailhead of the flattops and saw the expanse of the wilderness. I grew up going to the Sierras, and I’m very fond of them, but here you can get away from people so much easier. I discovered an affinity for the Colorado River. I’ve explored a lot of it, I’ve conceived children on it, I’ve raised my children on it. It’s become a really important, integral part of my life.


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Q: How did you meet your husband?

A: I was at the Steakhouse, drowning my sorrows on a rebound from a recently fizzled relationship, and Leslie Johnson looked at me and said, “Marianne, there has got to be someone out there for you,” and in the same breath she turned around and said, “Have you met my friend John Ackerman?” We talked for a while; he was writing Chinese characters on a napkin and that kinda got me. I went home that night and called my sister and said, “I met the man I’m going to marry.”

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Q: Tell us about the other Marianne Ackerman.

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A: It’s not just that there are two of us, we’re both married to John Ackermans. When I’m trying to write a check in Glenwood, at the courthouse or the hospital — it always comes up. We had mutual friends, so eventually we were introduced. With both our efforts, we make the name greater.


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Q: What was the appeal of computers?

A: There were some people in my life who were saying it was a really cool thing and I should learn how to do it, but I think I probably was attracted to it because of the way my mind works. I like data and I like working with it to come up with a big picture.

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Q: How did you manage to juggle all your roles?

A: Sometimes it gets really intense and you work long hours and late nights, and sometimes you can take off for a week and do something fun.


Q: How did you get involved in CMC?

A: I really, really believe in education as the answer to all the world’s problems, and I actually went to school there before I worked there. I had transcripts from five different schools and with a few classes I was able to turn them into a Associate of Arts degree. Then I decided I wanted to redo my math education, then I wanted to do that Gary Zabel field trip, and I took a year of Geology first and just immersed myself in it.


Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your health challenges?

A: When I was diagnosed with melanoma, I knew right away it was going to be okay. If you look at the statistics, a very large percentage of us are going to say at some point, “I have cancer.” And I kind of thing people need to start practicing that, because it’s a pretty big shift in reality. They’re also making huge advancements. I had immunotherapy; I didn’t even have to have chemo. Everybody knows somebody who’s gone through it, and a lot of them survive and thrive.


Q: What’s next?

A: I’m at the age where I need to be thinking about retirement and what that looks like. Maybe it’s on wheels.


If you know of someone who should be featured in “Our Town,” email or call 510-3003.