Friend: Akers ‘missed, loved and remembered’

Lindsay Kriz

Assistant Professor Monica Burke first met graduate student Ken Akers when he observed one of her spring 2009 classes.

Burke said she knew right away that Akers was unique.

“I could clearly tell that Ken was an interesting, energetic person who can easily stand out in any room,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Akers was enrolled in Burke’s class and was supposed to graduate this year, Burke said.

She described Akers as “intelligent, outgoing, analytical and friendly.”

“I believe that the world has lost a bright light with the passing of Ken,” she said. “He was definitely a man of worth and an unforgettable person.”

Akers, 25, died Jan. 22 in Louisville, according to an obituary from the Brown Funeral Home. A native of Frankfurt, Germany, Akers’ family lives in Elizabethtown.

His fiance, Caryl Adams, a graduate student at Indiana University, said Akers committed suicide “very unexpectedly.”

Louisville alumnus Vashon Broadnax said he met Akers during a graduate program and became friends with him. Broadnax said Akers was open about his clinical depression, and that he knew that suicide could be a possibility.

Akers made a presentation for one of his grad classes and shared the information openly with students, Broadnax said.

Broadnax said that he remembers Akers as a very straightforward person.

“He spoke the truth like, ‘Hey, this is what I think,’” he said. “He didn’t talk out of his ass. And people would really listen and say, ‘Yeah, I can see where this guy is coming from.’”

After knowing Akers for more than six years, Adams said she couldn’t pick a favorite memory of her fiance. But she said his personality always stuck out.

“Between his sheer brilliance and quick wit, he always knew what to say for effect,” Adams said in an e-mail.

Professor Aaron Hughey said he met Akers a few year ago when Akers was deciding where he wanted to earn his master’s degree in college student affairs.

Hughey said he and Akers talked for more than an hour, and by the end of their conversation Akers had decided to apply to WKU’s program.

“Ken was one of those people you didn’t quite know how to take at first,” Hughey said in an e-mail. “He would come across as loud, opinionated, and a little overbearing.  But he grew on you.”

Akers was serving as director for the Radcliff campus of Midway College and was engaged to be married in June, Hughey said.

“They had already sent out ‘hold the date’ magnets announcing their wedding,” he said. “I still have it on the cabinet in my office. He constantly talked about how much he loved her.”

Adams said Akers proposed to her on March 18, 2009, in a northern Kentucky park that overlooks Cincinnati — the same city where the two met and began their relationship.

She said Akers treated her with “the utmost respect and loved (her) wholeheartedly.”

“It always makes me smile knowing Ken’s greatest guilty pleasure: snuggling,” Adams said. “Ken was 6-foot-4 and over 300 pounds, and to others he could be considered intimidating. But at the end of the day, all he wanted to do was lay in bed and snuggle.”

Broadnax said that Akers will always be missed, loved and remembered.

“Shout out to the big guy with the big beard,” he said.