Duane Acklie, who built one of the nation’s largest privately owned trucking companies and was a behind-the-scenes force in Republican politics for two generations, died Saturday September 17 2016 in Lincoln.
Acklie, 84, was chairman of Crete Carrier Corp. when he died of complications from a number of health problems, said his son-in-law Tonn Ostergard, the company’s chief executive.
A native of Madison County, Nebraska, Acklie earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Nebraska — graduating from law school in 1955 — and later a doctorate in law from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Acklie was an attorney practicing with the Nelson, Harding, Acklie & Tate law firm.
He helped company founder Ken Norton incorporate the trucking company and later represented Norton in a pending sale in 1971.
When the deal fell through, Acklie and his wife, Phyllis, decided they would buy the business. Over the next eight years the company opened a new headquarters in Lincoln and made six acquisitions.
He was Crete Carrier’s CEO until 1991. Phyllis served as vice president, secretary and board member. They had been married for 62 years.
Acklie was a longtime national committeeman representing Nebraska and, for a time, was vice chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was an adviser to both Bush presidents but also helped local candidates and those seeking and holding statewide offices.
Acklie was appointed chairman of the International USO, chairman of Sallie Mae and a senior adviser to the United Nations. He helped Sallie Mae, the Student Loan Marketing Association, become a private entity.
He had been chairman or board member of the American Trucking Association, the Lincoln and Nebraska Chambers of Commerce, the Nebraska State Highway Commission, the Nebraska Economic Development Commission, the American Transportation Research Institute, the University of Nebraska Foundation and the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Acklie also is survived by daughter Dr. Laura Schumacher and her husband, Jeff; grandchildren Andrew and Grant Schumacher, Halley Kruse and Winston Ostergard; and great-grandchildren Avery and William Ostergard.