passed away from pancreatic cancer at his home in Wilson, NC, on
August 26. He was 67.
Isaac was born in the Bronx in 1945. He attended J.H.S.
47 from 1950 to 1955 and was the first Deaf student along with
some hard of hearing students from J.H.S. 47 to be mainstreamed
at P.S. 40. He then went on to Taft High School, graduating in
1963. At Gallaudet College (now University), he received a
bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1970. He then earned
a master’s degree from California State University Northridge
(CSUN) in 1976.
For 38 years, Isaac worked at five deaf schools as a
teacher and as a coach: West Virginia School for the Deaf,
California School for the Deaf, Texas School for the Deaf, New
York School for the Deaf (Fanwood) and Eastern North Carolina
School for the Deaf.
Isaac was an all-around teacher, mentor, advisor, counselor and
coach. He was often called the Pied Piper for his ability to
draw students wherever he went. Isaac adored his students as
much as they adored him. He showed extraordinary patience and
care for students with additional disabilities, and often gave
up his personal time to assist whenever he could. He taught the
students how to advocate for themselves, gave them a nudge in
the right direction, and educated them on their rights. He
passed his enthusiasm onto his students through sports,
coaching, volunteering in crises, counseling, and advising. To
best describe Isaac is to say: “The kids loved him for who he
was to them, not for what he was to them.”
Isaac is survived by his wife, Randi of 20 years, his
children and grandson in Texas as well as stepchildren and
step-grandchildren in Minnesota.
He is buried next to his mother, 1978 “47” Hall of Fame
awardee Dorothy (Finkelstein) Pakula, ’42, and his father, 1980
Man of the Year awardee in New York’s Beth David Cemetery.
In 2003, to show recognition of and appreciation for
his devotion in working closely with Deaf children and the
community, “47” Alumni Association of the Deaf presented him the
2003 Man of the Year Award. He will be missed by all.