LEWISTON — When he turned 85, Phil Isaacson decided to hike the Tuckerman Ravine Trail on Mount Washington.

No one was surprised.

When he published three books on art and architecture, nobody’s jaw dropped. At age 88, he was still working full time while traveling all over the world and skiing in the Rockies. No surprise there, either.

Isaacson was one of those people who did a little bit of everything while maintaining a law career and guiding others.

“He was a wonderful person, a very caring man,” said lawyer Ronald Bissonnette, who worked with Isaacson for 30 years. “He was an icon.”

Isaacson died Thursday, four days after turning 89. He was at work until the end, showing up at the office on Monday to take on a full case load.

“You could call him a legend,” said Lewiston lawyer Coleman Coyne. “He was certainly one of the old guard on the Bar Association.”

The easy thing to do would be to remark that a local lawyer has passed away, yet Isaacson was so much more than a partner at Isaacson & Raymond. He was a prolific photographer, an author, a supporter of the arts and a newspaper columnist. He was named Maine’s Most Cultured Man by the Maine Times.

Born in Lewiston and educated at Bates College and Harvard Law School, Isaacson wrote art reviews for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He started that in 1964 and kept at it almost until the end.

“His was a critical and a supportive voice of Maine arts and artists,” Bruce Brown, curator emeritus of the Maine Center for Contemporary Arts told the Press Herald on Thursday. “I’ve always felt his work encouraged the public to want to go out and experience what he has experienced. He was a leader, telling his readers, ‘Get out on the town and have a look at what is going on.’ That was a key role for him.”

Despite all of that, Isaacson was always hard at work at the law firm.

“He was a great mentor, a very good teacher,” Bissonnette said. “He took a lot of time to teach all of us. If you made a mistake, he’d say, ‘That’s OK. Mistakes happen. What we need to do is learn from it and not make that mistake again.’ He was that kind of guy.

“His door was always open,” Bissonnette said. “He’s responsible for making this a collegial firm in many ways. He made it a fun place to work.”

To talented, wise and kind, add humility and a sense of humor.

“Philip was as humble as he was brilliant, but his true contribution to the world around him was his sense of humor and wit,” said lawyer Jason Dionne, also of Isaacson and Raymond. “He had a gift for public speaking and a well-placed punchline woven into every story.

“He was an irreplaceable mentor and friend and will be sorely missed,” Dionne said. “The world is a better place because of him.”

Many people pointed out how well-regarded Isaacson was as a member of the local community. Lawyer Leonard Sharon pointed out that he was also highly regarded in the local Jewish community.

“He was just a real good guy,” Sharon said. “He was a mensch.”

Bissonnette had lunch with Isaacson on Friday. On Monday, Isaacson came to the office as he always did. When he failed to show up on Tuesday, his co-workers knew something was wrong. Isaacson was not the kind of guy to skip out of work on a whim.

“He always came to the office,” Bissonnette said.

In 2009, as he prepared to hike Mount Washington on his 85th birthday, he still had that can-do attitude and he thought everyone else should have it, too. Getting old, for Phil Isaacson, didn’t mean slowing down.

“Continue to do whatever you have been doing,” he said at the time. “Don’t say, ‘I’ve reached //65 and can’t climb or walk anymore.’ Don’t set arbitrary limits for yourself.”

Isaacson had been a lawyer since 1950, joining his father’s firm which took on several names over ensuing decades. Today, it is Isaacson and Raymond where Isaacson was partnered with former Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond.

According to Coyne, Isaacson worked mostly in corporate and real estate law.

“It’s the stuff that doesn’t always make headlines,” Coyne said.

Isaacson traveled extensiviely, visiting places not always considered vacation spots: Nepal, Mali, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Back in Lewiston, his friends, family and colleagues always knew he’d be back with grand tales and a whack of photographs to show them. Then Isaacson would be back on the job, just like always.

According to Bissonnette, that will be the hardest part: not seeing his old friend and mentor on the job.

“It’s going to be tough,” Bissonnette said.

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Services will be held at Sunday, 1 p.m. at Temple Shalom, Auburn. Interment will take place at Beth Jacob Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to Museum L-A or the Lewiston Public Library.