PASSINGS: Marcel Albert, Bruce Ackerman

Marcel Albert

French air ace in World War II

Marcel Albert, 92, a decorated World War II flying ace hailed as a hero of the French Normandie-Niemen squadron based in the Soviet Union, died of complications from cancer Aug. 23 in Harlingen, Texas, said French officials and Albert’s nephew, Jean Mavinger.

The office of France’s veterans affairs minister, Hubert Falco, expressed condolences to Albert’s former comrades-in-arms and “all the Russians who consider him a great hero.” In 1944, Albert became one of four French pilots named a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Albert was born in Paris on Nov. 25, 1917. He flew 199 missions and shot down 24 German planes for the Normandie-Niemen fighter unit, according to France’s Order of the Liberation, which was founded by Gen. Charles de Gaulle to assist the Soviet Union during World War II.

In 2009, Albert was named a grand officer in the French Order of the Legion of Honor.

Albert was a dynamic if secretive man who rarely talked about his wartime experiences, Mavinger said. He moved to Texas after the war and opened a hotel chain.

“All his friends died in Russia,” Mavinger said. “It really affected him.”

Bruce Ackerman

San Fernando Valley civic and business leader

Bruce Ackerman, 64, a business and civic leader in the San Fernando Valley, died Thursday of cancer, announced the Valley Economic Alliance, with which he spent 10 years as president and chief executive.

Ackerman also had served since 2005 on the Community Redevelopment Agency’s board of commissioners. He was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Between 1970 and 2000, Ackerman ran a series of businesses including the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Assn., and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership.

Ackerman was born in 1945 in Kearney, Neb., and graduated from Kearney Catholic High School and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He lived in West Hills.

-- Times staff and wire reports