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Robert Martin Isaacs, 84, passed away after a brief illness at Connecticut Hospice on February 21, 2013. He was born on January 15, 1929 in the Bronx, New York, the son of Jesse Mark and Sophia Lewis Isaacs. After leaving high school, he worked for the International News Service. He left INS for CCNY from which he graduated with a BA in English. He earned a MA in American literature from NYU. Following Army service in Germany, he did doctoral studies in Irish literature, specializing in James Joyce at Loyola of Chicago. He served in the US Army from 1954-56 as an order of battle specialist. Upon his discharge he worked in public relations in Chicago, later launching his career as a newspaper publisher. In 1961, he purchased The Stratford News, a weekly paper in Stratford, Conn. When the Stratford Board of Education began considering establishing a community college in 1964, the paper and Isaacs took the forefront in support. In 1966, Housatonic CC opened where Isaacs taught journalism part-time. In 1969 he became a fulltime faculty member in English while continuing to run the Stratford News. He continued in this dual capacity until 1973 when he sold the paper. At HCC, he established the college newspaper and literary magazine, developed a degree program in journalism, and brought in poets from the US including such luminaries as Allen Ginsberg, Galway Kinnell, and Adrienne Rich. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Board of Trustees in 1993. He retired in 2000 as professor of English and was given emeritus status. He continued teaching on a part-time basis through fall 2012, for a total of 44 years. Isaacs's poetry was widely published in magazines throughout the country and in the 1980s he edited Connecticut River Review, the poetry journal of the Connecticut Poetry Society. He had two books of poetry published, Notes to the Diggers and Triad with fellow Housatonic professors Peter Ulisse and Glenn Kindilien. In 1986, he served as a teaching assistant at the Nathan Mayhew Poetry Seminars on Martha's Vineyard working with the well-known poet Brendon Galvan. For many years, he was a theater critic, covering theater throughout the region for the Waterbury Republican American and Shore Publications among others. He was a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and a member of the Outer Critics Circle. After retirement he co-hosted The Memory Lane radio show on WNHU FM featuring big band, Broadway and American standards. Besides his wife, Karen Klebe, he leaves three children Dr. Randi Ellen Isaacs (Michael Zaidel) of Basking Ridge, NJ, Stephanie Erin Kilburn (Lance) of North Branford and Aric Matthew Isaacs (Julia Chaffe) of New Haven; four granddaughters - Shannon Courtney Kilburn, Kirsten Elizabeth Kilburn, Morgan Alexandra Zaidel, Jessie Lynn Kilburn; his two beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Vivvy and Ruggles; and a brother Alan Isaacs (Lynn) of Hedgesville, W.V. The family requests that memorials be donated to Connecticut Hospice in Branford or the Housatonic Community College Foundation. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Those wishing to send condolences online may do so at www.keenanfuneralhome.com
Published in Connecticut Post on Feb. 24, 2013