Optimism abounds in Greater Pittston.
Just ask Ed Ackerman, whose column “Optimist” appears weekly on Page 2 of the Sunday Dispatch.
Ackerman has been named the recipient of the 2013 Jean Yates Award presented annual by the Pittston Memorial Library. The award is presented annually to a person who has exhibited dedicated service to the library. It is named in honor of the late Jean Yates, a library benefactor, volunteer and board member.
Library board president Barbara Quinn said Ackerman was an obvious choice.
She pointed to his 10-plus years on the library’s board and his help in getting the library’s message out every week in the pages of the Pittston’s hometown newspaper, the Sunday Dispatch.
“He’s always helped us out whenever we needed him,” she said. “He’s been a great friend to the library, year after year.”
She also credited Ackerman’s leadership in helping bring the massive collection of Washington, D.C, insider and Pittston native John P. Cosgrove to the library and the new library wing that bears Cosgrove’s name.
“Eddie drove down to to Washington, D.C., twice to bring the Cosgrove Collection to us,” she said. “That’s dedication if I ever saw it.”
Ackerman began his journalism career at the Sunday Dispatch as a 17-year-old sports writer in 1967, the year he graduated valedictorian from Pittston Area High School.
He remained at the paper for 23 years, rising to the position of managing editor.
After serving as an adjunct professor at Wilkes University, he became a full-time professor at Luzerne County Community College where he is now in his 23rd year of teaching.
While continuing his career in the college classroom, Ackerman returned to the Sunday Dispatch in 2000 to serve as part-time editor.
He resumed writing his weekly column, “Ed Ackerman, optimist,” for which he has won a first place Keystone Award presented by the Pennsylvania Newspapers Publishers’ Association.
Quinn said Ackerman humbly agreed to accept the award.
“Being named to receive this award may be the most humbling thing that has ever happened to me,” Ackerman said.
“Not only to be included with the former honorees, all outstanding public servants, but also to be chosen over so many others whom, I believe, are much more worthy than I,” Ackerman said.
Past winners of the Jean Yates Award Ackerman referred to include Mike Lombardo, Sandy Insalaco, Tom Tigue, Maria Capolarella-Montante, Friends of the Library, Eileen Burns, Ellen Mondlak and Eva Mae Falcone.
Ackerman and his wife, Mary Kay, an operating room nurse, reside in Pittston. He has two children, Greta, 29, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Michael, 26, of Chicago. Both work in the field of advertising.
Presentation of the award will be at the library’s Jean Yates Award Dinner on Wednesday, April 17, at St. Joseph Marello Parish Center, William Street, Pittston. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m. with dinner and program to follow. Tickets are $60 per person and can be obtained by stopping at the library, 47 Broad St., Pittston, or by calling 654-9565.