Kenneth J. Akerley honored for his service to SalemBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent March 16. 2018 9:27PM
SALEM — Hundreds gathered Friday at the 29th annual John P. Ganley St. Patrick’s Day Memorial Award Luncheon to raise a glass to Kenneth J. Akerley’s more than three decades of service to Salem.
Akerley was honored during the event hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, receiving the prestigious award from the Ganley family for his involvement with the Knights of Columbus Bishop Peterson Council, as well as his commitment to the Salem Housing Authority and the town’s American Legion Post No. 63.
“I fell off the chair,” he said upon learning he was the recipient of the 2018 award. “I had no idea, it wasn’t even on my radar. My wife and I come to this function every year, and when I heard I was the nominee, I just couldn’t believe it,” he added. “I’m awestruck.”
He credited much of his success to Peg, his wife of 61 years. The couple moved to Salem 32 years ago to raise their five children — Elizabeth, Kenneth Jr., James, William and Thomas.
“The people I’ve talked with are truly happy, my friends and relatives, are truly happy for me. That gives me a good feeling inside,” he said.
The Ganley Family presents the John P. Ganley Community Service Award each year. The honor, named after the former police chief, is given to an individual who shows great community involvement and dedication in the manner exemplified by John P. Ganley.
For each of the 29 years the Ganleys have presented this award, the Boys & Girls Club has provided the perfect venue for the Irish-themed luncheon.
Akerley joked he comes every year for the corned beef, the cabbage and the camaraderie. The club’s gymnasium transformed into an emerald-colored dining room, complete with green and gold balloons and shamrock-shaped beads.
The event drew several notable lawmakers to Salem, including U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, Gov. Christopher Sununu, who has been to each of the past 10 Ganley luncheons, and state Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem.
Morse called Akerley a staple of Salem.
“I think it’s a perfect choice (for the award) because the Ganley event recognizes people within the community, and it’s people like Ken that are doing everything,” he said. “Chief Ganley was like that, and even though he was a big public figure, he just got it done. And I think Ken is the kind of a guy who doesn’t look for an award like this, he just does his job.”
Akerley is perhaps best known for his 30-year tenure with the Knights of Columbus Bishop. For more than half that time, he served as chairman of the organization’s annual blood drive, which has received statewide recognition as one of the top drives in New Hampshire.
He is a past Grand Knight and a past Faithful Navigator with the local Knights council.
A veteran of the Marine Corps, Akerley is a former service officer with the American Legion and helped promote the traveling Vietnam Wall exhibit last year.
“He’s been doing a lot for the legion over the last 10 years,” said Dennis Coleman of Salem’s American Legion.
Akerley is also commissioner and a past chairman of the town’s housing authority and a former president of the Sarc Housing Needs Board.