Charlie Ackerman, the New York native who changed the Buckhead skyline and who survived being shot during a burglary to launch a leading home-security company, died at his Buckhead home Friday, Sept. 22, after a lengthy illness. He was 84.
“As far as I’m concerned, he should be credited with creating the skyline of Buckhead,” Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said. “He was quite an individual.”
Massell gave Ackerman his start in the commercial real estate business when he hired the University of North Carolina graduate and recent U.S. Army veteran right off the street at Allan-Grayson Realty in 1957, even though, as Massell recalled in an interview, Ackerman came from a foreign country: New York City.
To that point, Atlanta real estate had been handled strictly by locals, so Massell asked Ackerman what he was running from.
“He had made a study of major cities. He picked Atlanta as one that was going to have the best growth, progress and so forth,” Massell said. “He wanted to be a part of it, and indeed he was.”
Massell, who left real estate a few years later to pursue politics, said he couldn’t imagine someone moving to a city and jumping into real estate without knowing the streets, restaurants, synagogues or anything else, but Ackerman’s decision “was our good fortune.”
Ackerman founded real estate firm Ackerman & Co. in 1967, and in 1973 he broke ground on Buckhead’s first skyscraper, Tower Place 100.
“Sam, do you think anybody will be able to top this?” Massell recalled Ackerman asking him. Massell now has his Buckhead Coalition office in the building.
Ackerman launched Ackerman Security Systems after coming home to a burglary in progress in the late 1970s and being shot and left for dead, only to crawl to a pool house to call for help.
“He was the most competitive guy I’ve known,” from real estate to tennis to his social life, Massell said. “He had to be first, a champion.”
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m. at Temple Sinai, which Ackerman helped found, at 5645 Dupree Drive, Sandy Springs, with a reception in the Charles S. Ackerman Social Hall to follow.