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'A true stalwart'

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | February 18, 2024 1:07 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Perhaps no one loved Fernan Lake Village more than Pat Acuff.

He served on its City Council from 1993 to 2000, and then as its mayor from 2001 to 2007. 

It was his home for more than 40 years and he treasured it so much that he and Jim Elder and Doug Potter, all former mayors of Fernan, bought the hillside across from the village to save it from development and donated to the city of Coeur d'Alene for recreational use.

“Pat was a tremendous community-minded person who loved his hometown,” said Steve Widmyer, former Coeur d’Alene mayor. “Pat always spoke his mind and you knew exactly where he stood on issues. He was an outstanding leader, a great friend and he cherished his family. He will be missed.”

Acuff died Feb. 9 at his home with his wife, Heidi, by his side. He was 78.

Friends remember him for his kindness, generosity and willingness to do what he could for family, friends and pretty much anyone who could use a hand.

“He cared about community since the beginning,” Sandy Emerson, who grew up with Acuff and was friends with him in school.

“He was fun to be around,” Emerson continued. “He had a great smile, always a pleasant thing to say, a good guy to be with.”

Emerson said Acuff always gave his best. Even in their school days, Acuff was a leader and mentor who guided those around him in the right direction.

“He was a true stalwart,” Emerson said. “He knew what was right and fought for it.”

Acuff was known for community involvement. 

He was a co-founder of Jr. Tackle Football, a member of Ducks Unlimited, a past president of the Coeur d’Alene Jaycees and a board member of the Athletic Round Table Charitable Trust. 

“He was a strong advocate for protecting Fernan Village and the lake,” Emerson said.

Acuff grew up in Coeur d’Alene.

He earned his real estate and marketing degree from the University of Idaho and, at age 22, went to work for his father, Joe Acuff, at Acuff Realty.

He spent 56 years in real estate before retiring in 2023.

He considered himself a blessed man.

“I’ve always been extremely lucky, starting with being born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho," Acuff told The Press in an interview last year.

Bill Barlow attended Coeur d’Alene High School at the same time as Acuff and the two were friends. Acuff graduated in 1963 and Barlow followed in 1964.

Even then, Barlow noticed that Acuff created a positive environment wherever he went.

“He had a tremendous pulse on what was going on in the community,” Barlow said.

While their careers took them on separate paths, the two stayed in contact.

“He was a good friend,” Barlow said. “He had a lot of people who cared about him.”

Ray Watkins, current mayor of Fernan Lake Village, said Acuff was passionate about Fernan, the lake, and the environment and did what he could to preserve it for future generations.

Watkins said when Acuff was Fernan’s mayor, he did his best to make sure the City Council had the city’s best interests at heart.

“Pat was very involved in the city,” Watkins said. “He remained involved throughout most of his life.”

Services and celebration of Acuff’s life will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Hagadone Event Center.