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John Akre

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May 10, 1926-March 10, 2012

John William "Jack" Akre, 85, originally of Fargo, died Saturday, March 10, 2012 after a long illness. He was dearly loved by his family and friends and will be remembered for his zest for life, creativity, positivity and generosity.

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He lived much of his life by this quote: "Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it... we are all in charge of our attitudes."

Jack was born to Jean P. and Catherine T. Akre in St. Paul, Minn. He attended Fargo Central High School, where he developed his love of music playing saxophone in the band and singing in the A Capella Choir.

After graduating in 1944 he joined the U.S. Navy, serving during World War II aboard the USS Drew, which earned a battle star for service at Okinawa. Returning from the war, he studied design at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and in 1954 married Marilyn (Lynn) Cole. They loved living in Fargo, where they raised their family.

Jack worked in the building and design business. He was a true entrepreneur who was featured in U.S. News & World Report in 1971 for buying and restoring the 19th century Fargo & Southern Railroad Depot. Jack used the "Depot" as his design center and leased space to other related businesses.

After a fire destroyed the building he worked as an independent designer in Fargo and Scottsdale, Ariz., and was a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. His drafting skill, eye for color and unique vision for space were his design signatures so much that some of his clients wouldn't dare hang a picture without consulting him first.

Jack loved nature, sailing, hiking, horseback riding and playing piano. But truly the center of his universe was Akrehaven, their garden compound summer cottage on Big Floyd Lake. He loved projects, raising flowers and vegetables, watercolor painting, entertaining and serving martinis on the deck.

Surviving Jack are his wife, Lynn and their two children, Jane (Larry) Smith of Seattle and Steve Akre of Lake Tahoe; three grandchildren, Luke and Jack Smith and Orianna Akre; and one great-granddaughter, Kaia Hurd.

Preceding him in death were his parents and his sister, Florencemary Issacson.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Humane Society in Detroit Lakes or Plains Art Museum in Fargo.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17 in West-Kjos Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes. Thank you to all of the staff at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home for their support and wonderful care.

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