LEWISTON - Irving Isaacson and his wife, Judith, sat to the side of the Lewiston High School gymnasium Thursday. Big smiles lit up their faces.
The Isaacsons were guests of honor at a senior assembly, where they watched with obvious delight as the names of 25 seniors were drawn. The lucky students came down from the bleachers and received paperwork that will fetch each a Dell laptop computer.
The names of 25 Edward Little High School seniors were drawn the day before. They, too, will receive laptops for college.
"Wow!" said Lewiston senior Luc Collette, 18, after finding out he won a laptop. Having a computer for college "is definitely a big relief," said Collette, who will study sculpture at the University of Maine at Augusta.
"I'm so excited!" said Laura Martel, 18, another winner. "You can't explain how it helps so much going to college. Now everything is so high-tech." Martel plans to study physical education at the University of Maine.
Martel called the Isaacsons' generosity "a phenomenon. It just shows how much support Lewiston High School has."
The laptop drawings were open to college-bound seniors who didn't already own laptop computers. The giveaway was courtesy of the L&A Fund, a local foundation for worthy causes created by the Isaacsons.
"I've been here 90-odd years," Irving Isaacson said. "I think Lewiston-Auburn is a great place." He wanted to give back.
A valuable asset'
The couple has a history made for books and movies. Married more than 60 years, they met during World War II in Germany a few weeks after Judith was liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
"She was beautiful, only 19 or 20," Isaacson said. "I liked everything about her."
He brought her back to the community where he was born. They raised three children. He became a lawyer. She became dean of students at Bates College. Both have written books. She wrote "Seed of Sarah," about the Nazi terror at Auschwitz. He wrote "Memoirs of an Amateur Spy," about being an American spy during World War II and the Cold War.
Now the Isaacsons have seven grandchildren who have been, are, or will be going to college. "Obviously, a laptop is a valuable asset," Irving Isaacson said. "It will help the kids."
During Thursday's assembly, Lewiston's Class of 2006 learned they have something in common with Isaacson. Before he graduated from Bates and Harvard, he graduated from their school, the Class of '32.
Assistant Principal Paul Amnott held up Isaacson's 74-year-old student file card. Now slightly yellowed, the card shows his baby-faced student picture, his attendance record and his grades.
School aspirations coordinator Joan Macri said it was "absolutely amazing and wonderful" that someone who will turn 91 in August is a Lewiston High alumnus and is so generous to graduating seniors.
She asked the seniors to think about that. If they were to contribute to Lewiston's graduating seniors when they were 90 or 91, that would mean they'd be contributing to the Class of 2073.
"I hope you remember that," Macri said. "No matter where you go, your blood will always run Blue Devil blue."
After the 25 names were drawn, senior class president Luke Pottle presented the Isaacsons with a gift. It was hydrangea plant to remember them by. "It will always bloom blue," he said.
As Pottle spoke, the seniors who graduate one week from today sat in the bleachers. They applauded, whistled and cheered for the elderly couple.
The Isaacsons beamed.