People You Know: Longtime lawyer Irving Isaacson — Nearly 97, nearly ready to take it easy

Irving Isaacson
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Irving Isaacson, 96, author, lawyer, longtime philanthropist and WWII veteran, relaxes at his Auburn home recently.

AUBURN — No one ever threw Irving Isaacson a retirement party, and he's never declared it The End.

Though he turns 97 on Wednesday.

"I've gradually drifted back (away) the last year or so," said Isaacson, who is now less involved in the day-to-day at Brann & Isaacson, the law firm his father co-founded in 1927 and where he worked for 60-plus years.

It's left more time to enjoy what he doesn't refer to as retirement with his wife, Judith.

"A friend once asked me, 'How long have you been married?'" Isaacson said. "I said, 'Not long enough.'"

(It's 67 years and counting.)

Isaacson was born in Auburn in 1915, one of three kids in the family. As a teen he moved to Lewiston, graduating from the then-new city high school in 1932. Isaacson went on to graduate from Bates College, then Harvard Law School, before joining the Army in 1939. He spent six years in the service, pulled into intelligence work, a lot of it in Holland.

He wrote about that time in his 2001 book, "Memoirs of an Amateur Spy."

"Everybody writes memoirs. As soon as you get old, it's a disease of a certain age," Isaacson said. He described his spy experience as: "Nobody was shooting at me, so it was OK."

"Irving mentions how we met (in 'Memoirs')," Judith Isaacson said. In her own book, "Seed of Sarah," she writes more about the early romance.

It was Germany. He was a boyish 30. She was 20 and had just been liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"('Seed') is a good book, I recommend it highly," Irving Isaacson said.

The couple settled in Auburn and raised three children. Isaacson made a career out of business law. Along the way he was an assistant county attorney and municipal court judge. Isaacson also founded United Egg Producers, bringing together egg farmers in a way they hadn't come together before, and giving them legal advice.

"I got to see the whole country that way," he said.

In 2001, Isaacson established the L & A Fund, an informal way to do small acts of good.

"(There was) no grand flash of inspiration," he said. He'd lived here his whole life and was in a position to help people. "Every once in a while we do something worthwhile."

Staff at Brann & Isaacson help pick the somethings. The L & A Fund has purchased laptops for college-bound seniors and given grants to the Music in the Park series, to the Lewiston skate park and for Thanksgiving meals for the homeless, among others. Last month, it helped with a new playground at the Margaret Murphy Center for Children.

Isaacson said he likes projects that benefit kids and highlight the outdoors.

These days he and Judith, a former Bates College dean, enjoy working in the garden and relaxing in the home they built almost 60 years ago.

"I keep busy enough so I don't fall asleep in the middle of the day, unless I want to," he said.

There's a measure of good fortune and taking things day by day to get to 97, he said. "The biggest element of a long life and happy life is to get happily married."

His wife smiled at the compliment.

"That's true," she said. "That's why we've lived happily long."

Know someone everyone knows? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or kskelton@sunjournal.com

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JOHN PAINTER's picture

Knowing Ike I doubt he would

Knowing Ike I doubt he would ever retire, he just shifts his focus which is usually to things very interesting. He's smart, tough, respected and loved.

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