A lifelong educator and human rights activist, Lilialyce Akers’ life began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 12, 1921. She attended Wheaton College, graduating in 1942 with a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology. After college, Akers served in the Red Cross during World War II in the Pacific Theater of Operations. She was stationed in New Guinea and Japan where she met her husband, Dee Ashley Akers of Carrollton, Kentucky. Post-war she earned a Master’s Degree (1949) and a Ph.D. (1955) in sociology from the University of Kentucky then began a teaching career which included University of Kentucky, (1955-56); Midway College (1956-1962); Morehead State University (1962-1965); Kentucky Southern College (1965-1969); and the University of Louisville (1969-2005). Akers was among the first educators at the Universiy of Louisville to teach women’s studies courses. She later served as Director of the Women’s Studies Program in 1978.
Akers was active in the River City Business and Professional Women in Louisville, Kentucky and served on the foundation board of National Association of Business and Professional Women. She was a long-time board member of the League of Women Voters, and worked on Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Kentucky presidential primary campaign. At the time of her death, Akers was serving on the Board of Trustees of Midway College.
As a feminist activist, Akers campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment in Kentucky. She served as a delegate to first federally funded National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas in 1977 and in the 1980s helped organize the first trade show for women-owned businesses in Kentucky. She attended the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and then worked to bring a national conference on sustainable development to Louisville in 1993. She served as a non-governmental organizational representative to the United Nations and worked on behalf of the UN Commission on Women. She attended the UN’s Third World Conference on Women in Kenya and its Fourth World Conference on Women in China. In 2003 she was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners and in 2005 she was recognized with the Kentucky Women Remembered Award. Akers died on June 10, 2008 following a brief illness.