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Reinventing Akron: Stories of a Generation

An exceptional group of Akron men and women, born before the second World War and who re-shaped the community over the last 50 years, are profiled in the television documentary by Dave Lieberth, REINVENTING AKRON: STORIES OF A GENERATION. The special airs exclusively on PBS Western Reserve.

The life stories of the recipients of the Akron Community Foundation’s annual Bert Polsky Humanitarian Award bear witness to the history of Akron between 1945 and 1999. “These men and women helped build the city and the community’s institutions in a very direct way,” says Lieberth. “We wanted to create an oral record of how Akron met the challenges thrust at it after 1950. Not only did these remarkable individuals have front-row seats to the events which created the community we have today, but they either made the decisions or were witness to the closed-door meetings which shaped Akron.”

The program is a sequel to last year’s award-winning video history of Akron,INVENTIVE. INDUSTRIOUS. INSPIRED. A HISTORY OF AKRON, a comprehensive documentary that celebrated the city’s 175th anniversary. “REINVENTING AKRON picks up where our last program left off,” Lieberth says.

Past recipients of the Polsky Award whose stories are featured in the documentary include Beacon Journal Editor John S. Knight and Publisher Ben Maidenberg, who along with Goodyear Chairman E.J. Thomas formed a triumvirate that led Akron over a 25-year period. Vintage video of an interview Lieberth conducted in 1988 with the late Lisle Buckingham is also featured. Of the 37 recipients of the Polsky Award who have been selected since 1969, 18 are deceased.

Among recipients interviewed for the program are former Congressman John Seiberling, Akron Deputy Mayor Dorothy Jackson and The University of Akron president emeritus Norman Auburn. Also interviewed are industry executives M.G. “Jerry” O’Neil of General Tire, John Ong of BF Goodrich, and former Goodyear chairmen Charles Pilliod and Robert Mercer. Fred and Francis Albrecht recall the last 50 years in Akron, along with Ann Amer Brennan, Frank Steere, Belle K. Miller and Howard Flood.

Premiered on PBS Western Reserve in 2001.