South Seattleite Helps Preserve Great Granddad’s Legacy

South Seattleite Helps Preserve Great Granddad’s Legacy

By Amber Campbell

Ray Akers is a fourth generation Seattle resident whose great grandfather founded the Hitt Fireworks Company,  located on the hilltop south of Columbia City.

Hitt's Devil Dog Flash Bomb, edited

Ray’s great grandfather founded the Hitt Fireworks Company, located on the hilltop south of Columbia City.

Nearly 100 years later, Ray found himself battling private developers and city leaders in a bid to create Hitt’s Hill Park on the 3.2 acre site of the former fireworks factory.

His efforts were ultimately successful and the park was officially established in 2001. Among the many projects and causes in which Ray is involved, he says the park is one of his most satisfying achievements because the park is a permanent thing, and will be there forever for the enjoyment of Columbia City residents.

When asked what motivates him to do this work, Ray says it’s to improve the quality of life for my friends and neighbors.

Ray and his partner Doug Cargill are both passionate about community involvement, with decades between them on numerous boards, committees and grassroots efforts to improve the community.

Ray – a longtime realtor – served on the board of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council for 18 years and on the Columbia City/Hillman City/Genesee Neighborhood Planning Committee from 1998 to 2001. He’s also credited with launching the revitalization of Columbia City back in the 1990s.

While Doug currently serves as President of Board of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, board member of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council and also served on the Columbia City/Hillman City/Genesee Neighborhood Planning Committee from 1998 to 2001.

The two teamed up in 2011 to form Akers & Cargill, a South Seattle-based real estate partnership which sets a high bar for customer service.  When not busy with clients, Ray is an avid car collector and a good cook (and reportedly has lengthy conversations with his dogs).

Doug moved to Seattle from Coronado, California in 1995. Doug is a wine connoisseur and decorated former Naval officer and Stanford University graduate.

This week, they were kind enough to answer a few questions for our People in Your Neighborhood column — a series of interviews with some of South Seattle’s most interesting and engaging people.

Ray is a fourth generation Seattleite.

Ray is a fourth generation Seattleite.

Names:
RA: Ray Akers
DC: Doug Cargill

Ages:
RA: 50-something
DC: 50ish

GSS: Neighborhood?
Both: Columbia City

GSS: How long in South Seattle?
RA: Lifelong (with brief stays in several other places!)
DC: 21 years

Doug is a wine connoisseur and decorated former Naval officer.

Doug is a wine connoisseur and decorated former Naval officer.

GSS: Where from originally?
RA: Seattle native
DC: All over (Navy brat)

GSS: Day jobs?
RA: Realtor, household manager, servant to pets, political gadfly….
DC: Wine and Houses

GSS: What do you like most about your day jobs?
RA: Being self-employed.
DC: My clients

GSS: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
RA: A ringing phone….emails…..(clients).
DC: Whining dogs

GSS: What are you passionate about?
RA: My business, politics, food, dogs, 60’s hardtop coupes.
DC: My community

GSS: What are your hobbies?
RA: Cooking, travel, gardening, restoring vintage automobiles
DC: Community activism, wine collecting.

GSS: Tell us about your families.
RA: Fourth generation Seattleite, with three siblings.
DC: Oldest of three boys. Parents celebrating 53rd wedding anniversary this year.

GSS: What are your most favorite things about South Seattle?
RA: Our spectacular parks, our people.
DC: The people

GSS: What are your least favorite things about South Seattle?
RA: City neglect of our marvelous community.
DC: Traffic

Hitt's Thunder Flashcracka, editedGSS: Where is your favorite place to go in South Seattle?
RA: Seward Park
DC: Kubota Gardens

GSS: If you could live anywhere besides South Seattle, where would it be?
RA: New Zealand
DC: New Zealand

GSS: If there was one thing you could change about South Seattle, what would it be?
RA: Poverty & crime
DC: More respect from City Hall.

GSS: Who inspires you?
RA: My friends, my clients, Will Rogers, Oscar Wilde, Stephen Wright, and so many others…
DC: Patricia Paschal, an eloquent voice and steady rudder for our community.

GSS: What was the last thing you read?
RA: Recipe for tonight’s dinner.
DC: A Salon article on the Brexit.

GSS: Tell us something about you that not many people know.
RA: I cry easily.
DC: I’m a Stanford graduate.

GSS: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
RA: I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
DC: Life without a smartphone.

GSS: What is your greatest fear?
RA: Being eaten alive by a crocodile…or disappointing a friend.
DC: Not meeting my own expectations.

GSS: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
RA: Procrastination
DC: Procrastination

GSS: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
RA: Dishonesty
DC: Dishonesty

GSS: What is your greatest regret?
RA: That I didn’t win the multi-billion Power Ball lottery.
DC: Not going to music school.

GSS: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
RA: Too personal!
DC: My dogs

GSS: What is your current state of mind?
RA: Sane, most days.
DC: Mid-life crisis

GSS: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
RA: Creating Hitt’s Hill Park, a six-year battle with the city.
DC: Naval Officer

GSS: What is your most treasured possession?
RA: My high school car… um… but probably my dogs.
DC: Childhood teddy bear

GSS: What do you most value in your friends?
RA: Integrity
DC: Trustworthiness

GSS: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
RA: Perry Mason
DC: James Bond

Hitt Fireworks Co

Ray calls the establishment of Hitt’s Hill Park one of his most satisfying achievements.

GSS: Who are your heroes in real life?
RA: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and…
DC: ADM Jim Stockdale

GSS: What is it that you most dislike?
RA: Ignorance & dogmatism
DC: Raw Onions

GSS: What else should we know about you?
RA: I’m incredibly modest (and occasionally funny).
DC: I’m a nice guy… really.

Is there a South Seattle neighbor you’d like to know more about? Nominate them for our People in Your Neighborhood column — a series of interviews with some of South Seattle’s most interesting and engaging people. Send your suggestions to gosouthseattle@gmail.com. Photo/GO: South Seattle

 

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