EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Judy Ackerman, a well-known community activist, veteran, conservationist and supporter of voters rights — died on Sunday, Nov. 6, her friends announced in a news release Monday night.
She was 69 years old after battling cancer since 2015.
Ackerman was first diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
She was serving in the U.S. Army in 1995 when she was first stationed at Fort Bliss. Initially she was not all that excited about living in the desert, but the minute she saw the Franklin Mountains, she fell in love with El Paso.
Since then, she immersed herself in outdoor excursions and learned all about the flora and fauna that make the Franklin Mountains State Park so special and unique.
She is well known for her work to protect El Paso’s natural spaces, including Knapp Canyon (a part of the Franklins), the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in the Lower Valley, and especially the 7,081-acre Castner Range in Northeast El Paso, many of whose 7,081 acres — still owned by Fort Bliss — constitute 25 percent of the Franklin Mountains themselves.
Ackerman was well known as a leader in the Castner Range Coalition’s decades-long campaign to conserve the range as a national monument. She also spoke out against the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans to widen Interstate 10 in Downtown El Paso.
And about 10 years ago, Judy was arrested after handcuffing herself to a bulldozer while protesting the building of the border wall at the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park. She was also a staunch supporter of voting rights and fair elections and, as a deputized voter registrar, registered thousands of voters in El Paso County. In addition, she founded the Viejitas for Choice network to work for reproductive health rights.
Ackerman was a fixture at El Paso City Council meetings during the past 20 years and spoke eloquently during public comment whenever one of her favorite issues was to be discussed.