Neil Hoover Akkerman passed away peacefully on December 11, 2020, surrounded by his wife and daughters, of whom he was so proud. Neil was born in Houston on August 26, 1948, the fifth child of William Herman “Babe” and Margaret Sue Hoover Akkerman. He graduated from Bellaire High School and the University of Houston. He was a Registered Professional Engineer, a member of Texas Corinthian Yacht Club, member and Past Commodore of the Houston Yacht Club, and a member of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club.
Neil was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Suzy Akkerman Fillebrown. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Sam Dora Fulton Akkerman, daughters Kristin Akkerman Schuster (Tobias) and Brooke Akkerman Malone (Carter), and twin granddaughters Emelia and Eleanor Schuster. He is also survived by his sister Betsy Akkerman Cogburn and husband Mike, brothers James Akkerman (Pat), Jon Akkerman (Karen), and Steve Akkerman (Kelly).
Neil was certain even as a young boy that he would follow generations of Akkermans before him to become an engineer. He knew his rare talent for machine design was a gift from God and he used it well. He had the ability to simplify the complex. He brought leadership and magic to any project he touched. He was awarded nearly one hundred patents, primarily in the oil industry but also in a range of other fields including a revolutionary heart pump.
He began his career with Baker Oil Tools, leaving 8 years later to co-found AVA International. With the sale of this company when he was 42, he learned to play as hard as most people work, sailing, hunting, fishing, and cruising his motor yacht along the East Coast, Chesapeake Bay, Bahamas, and the Texas Coast. His accomplishments included participating in the preliminary design and testing of Abracadabra, a boat built to compete in the 2000 America's Cup; designing, building, and racing two cars to set seven World Land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, where he was proud to have earned the coveted Red Hat for successfully racing at 200 mph. He worked hand in hand with each of his daughters to build and restore two classic cars: a 1929 Model T Ford Roadster and a bright orange 1971 Karmann Ghia. He built a sailboat for his granddaughters and for other children to learn to love to sail.
He loved to entertain friends and strangers alike sharing stories of his amazing life experiences, usually with sound effects. He was a generous, kind-hearted, and forgiving gentleman; always an optimist he saw the best in everyone. He was known for his honesty, and his word and handshake were binding commitments. He will be remembered for his love and enthusiasm for life and the sparkle in his bright blue eyes.
A private memorial service will be held on December 17 at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, officiated by dear friend the Rev. Dr. Doug Richnow. A reception will be held at a location to be announced at the service. Inurnment will be at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at a later date.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Galveston Bay Foundation https://galvbay.org/donate/; or mail in donations to: Galveston Bay Foundation, 1725 Highway 146 Kemah, TX 77565, or make a payment over the phone by calling 281 332 3381 x201.