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HomeBusiness & CommunityAcademia Hernando presents “Dr. Ackley’s Family: An Emigrant’s Story”

Academia Hernando presents “Dr. Ackley’s Family: An Emigrant’s Story”

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Academia Hernando presents a touching and informative story of family and charity at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, when Dr. Rodney Ackley-local dentist, will give “Dr. Ackley’s Family: An Emigrant’s Story” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill.

Academia Hernando is a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization providing quality instruction and learning experiences for adult students throughout Hernando County and beyond. Their goal is to inform, educate, and inspire adult learners through a series of weekly lectures on a wide variety of topics.

“Dr. Ackley’s father emigrated from Lebanon. The Ackley family of dentists returns each year to serve at the dental facility he built in honor of his father,” reads an event notice. “Please join us to hear his fascinating story.”

According to an event bio, Dr. Rodney Ackley is the son of a Lebanese immigrant and an American from the coal-country mountains of Virginia. He was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, attended grade school in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and attended high school in Lebanon. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida Dental School in 1980. He met his wife, Eva, while in dental school, and they married in December of 1980.

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They started their lives together on the water in New Port Richey because they both enjoyed sailing and still reside there. He started a general dentistry practice in May 1981 in Spring Hill. Eva worked in a pediatric dental office in Clearwater.

He and Eva are parents to Richard, a local attorney; Amy, a dentist practicing with the dental group; and Andrea, an attorney working for the family business. In 1983, they decided it was time to practice together, and this was the start of Ackley Dental Group. Ackley Dental Group has grown from a three-employee office to an office with 28 team members.

Dr. Ackley founded the Crescent Community Dental Clinic, which has provided free dental care to those who are in need throughout the community for 12 years.

In 2010, in honor of his parents, he established a dental clinic in Bteknai, Lebanon, where his father was born and some family members still live. The dental clinic has a full-time dentist and staff to provide for the village people. Each year, he and Eva return to treat the people in the village. It’s all about giving back to the community.

He is also an entrepreneur who owns several local businesses, which include a marina, a resort, storage, and several commercial plazas.

“As they are getting close to retirement, they both feel it is important to give back to people who need help,” read the event bio. “In addition to the dental clinics, they have started a foundation to help those trying to improve their lives.”

Yet when asked about the focus of his Academia Hernando presentation, Ackley places his emphasis – not on himself – but on dear old Dad. “This is my story as a Lebanese immigrant’s son,’” he said.

Sharon Printz, a board member of Academia Hernando, looks forward to welcoming this famous local luminary to the Academia stage.

“Dr. Ackley was in Lebanon this summer serving at the dental facility. He returned in the middle of August with new pictures and stories for his presentation,” said Printz. “He is a well-respected local dentist–and a local hero.”

Dr. Ackley’s Family: An Emigrant’s Story is the second presentation of the Fall 2023 series of Academia Hernando, which features a brilliant spectrum of topics as delivered by the experts who know them best.

Academia Hernando presentations begin promptly at 10 a.m. and last two hours with a 15-minute intermission. To register for the entire lecture series in addition to a Nov. 10 mystery bus trip, print the registration form found at https://www.academiahernando.org/fall-series and mail with your check for $80 payable to Academia Hernando Inc. to Bev Nuzzi at 15027 Middle Fairway Drive Brooksville, FL 34609.

People can also bring a check to an Academia Hernando presentation; walk-in admissions are available for $15 per presentation. Visit https://www.academiahernando.org/ for more information, or call (352) 345-8345.

Sam Ackley in front of a dry cleaning business he started in Kingsport, Tennessee.
[Photo provided by Rodney Ackley]

Sam Ackley when he was a young orphan in Lebanon. [Photo provided by Rodney Ackley]

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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