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Northwest Salmon



Descendents of Leonard Acker, WWII KIA,

found in area

by Amanda Fanger

Thanks to a letter to this publication from a reader, a local descendent of a World War II soldier killed in action has been found.

In the May 2, 2016 issue of the Reporter & Farmer, an article titled “WWII Day County man gone but not forgotten” by this reporter told the story of Lily High School graduate Leonard Acker who died in Germany while serving his country during the war. Little was known of him, but through a collaborative effort from the Day County Veterans’ Service Office and employees of the Day County Courthouse, Acker’s photo was found in time to be included with The Faces of the Margraten tribute. Acker’s remains are buried in the American War Cemetery Margraten in the Netherlands.

Joel Bisgard of Waubay is Acker’s nephew. Bisgard’s mother, Mary Helen, was Acker’s youngest sibling. She married Bradford Bisgard in 1952 and died in 1979.

The family ancestry was pointed out by Verda Pitzl now of Sioux Falls but who grew up in Wheatland Township, Day County.

Pitzl’s great-aunt Zella Dollie Fisk married Acker’s brother, Lloyd Raymond Acker in 1931. They had farmed south of Bitter Lake in Central Point Township, where they raised four children. In 1970 they moved to Cottage Grove, OR and are buried there.

Although Bisgard says he doesn’t remember ever hearing stories of his mother’s older brother, he knew of him when asked. He also pointed out that there is a memorial stone in the Soldier’s Circle at the Webster Cemetery in honor of Acker, secured by Acker’s brother Harry.

In her letter, Pitzl remarked about becoming acquainted with some of Leonard Acker’s siblings through family reunions and the Egeland Lutheran Church. Wrote she, “There seemed to be a lot of redheads in the Acker family!”

She also stated of the Bisgards, “This is a very military family.”

According to Bisgard, his father was a World War II and Korean veteran, he himself served during the Vietnam era; son Jake Bisgard, Watertown served in Iraq and is set to retire this fall from the military. Bisgard’s son-in-law Eric Niles of Waubay has also served.

This year, almost 23,000 attended The Faces of the Margraten tribute, May 1-5. According to Terry Hirsch, an American volunteering with the Dutch group, that was more than was expected, being a nonmilestone year. This year they celebrated the 71st anniversary of the end of the war. Hirsch was the person who contacted this publication regarding Acker’s photo.

More information about Acker can be found online at, which is a website hosted by volunteers.

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