George S. Isaacson ’70 died on August 19, 2023, in Brunswick, Maine.
(The following was provided by the Times Record on August 22, 2023)
BRUNSWICK – George S. Isaacson, of Brunswick, lawyer, professor, and civic leader passed away peacefully on Aug. 19, 2023.
George was fortunate to enjoy many opportunities-of-a-lifetime, although those close to him knew and admired his penchant for designing a life and creating his own destiny.
From the start, George considered being born to Irving and Helen on Oct. 20, 1948, as an Isaacson and a third-generation Mainer to be two of the greatest advantages a man could have.
In high school, George was a standout student and debater at Edward Little High School in Auburn. As the story goes, the Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College drove up to Edward Little one day, summoned George out of class, and informed him that he was to become a Bowdoin man. That was that, and there was no debating destiny. Bowdoin proved to be a formative intellectual and personal experience for George, as well as a lifelong association interweaving the professional, social, and familial.
Upon graduation from Bowdoin, George embarked upon his longest odyssey away from Maine, to the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. Penn would help launch an accomplished legal career. After graduation in 1973, he returned to Maine to serve as the first law clerk to Justice Thomas E. Delahanty of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. The decisive move of his legal career came in 1976, when he joined his fourth cousins, Irving and Peter Isaacson, at Brann & Isaacson, a three-person law firm in Lewiston. Over the next five decades, he grew the firm to represent and advise clients across the nation, such as L.L. Bean and the Direct Marketing Association, as well as rural Maine school districts. He wrote extensively in trade journals, and testified multiple times before congressional committees about the Commerce Clause, his specialty. He argued in front of the United States Supreme Court twice.
Penn was such a notable turning point in his life not because it launched an exceptional legal career, but rather because at Penn, George met Margaret. As she was one of only twelve women in her class, George had his work cut out wooing her. Margaret began as his moot-court partner, and went on to be his wife of forty-two years, mother of their three children, grandmother to their seven grandchildren, and his closest friend and advisor. He always considered marrying Margaret to be the best decision he ever made. Together they built a life and family that would exceed even George’s loftiest designs.
In 1973 when George returned to Maine and began his law career, he was torn professionally. Starting in his college days, George wrestled with whether to become a professor or lawyer, so in typical George fashion, he figured out a way to be both. In fall of 1973, he joined the Government Department at Bowdoin as an adjunct faculty member. He would go on to teach at Bowdoin for the next fifty years, rotating courses on constitutional law subjects, and engaging with students during weekly office hours held fireside at the Isaacson home in Brunswick.
In addition to George’s pride in being a Mainer, he felt a genuine debt of gratitude for the opportunities the state provided the Isaacson family. He sought to repay that debt with a lifetime of civic leadership. George served on numerous boards in Maine, including twice as chairman of the MaineHealth Board, a member of the Maine Medical Center Board, chairman of the Bowdoin International Music Festival Board, and vice chairman of the Maine Public Board. To George, civic leadership was an honor and duty, but also an opportunity to engage his insatiable intellectual appetite, and contribute meaningfully outside of the law and teaching.
Ever the family man first and foremost, George enjoyed nothing more than spending time with family, and especially the many grandchildren he was “collecting,” as he liked to say. Sitting and talking with his children and grandchildren or kayaking and fishing together at the family lake house on Pemaquid Pond were among his favorite pastimes. George is survived by his wife, Margaret, his children Emily Isaacson Tzuker and husband Matt, Abigail Isaacson Abbott and husband Zander, Nathan Isaacson and wife Alison, and, his seven grandchildren, Anna and Levi Tzuker, Allegra, Eve, and Isaac Abbott, and Eliza and Molly Isaacson.
From: President Zaki <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2023 1:34 PM
Subject: George Isaacson (1948–2023)
To the Bowdoin community,
We are very sorry to report that George S. Isaacson ’70, an adjunct faculty member in government who taught courses at Bowdoin for nearly fifty years, died on Saturday, August 19, surrounded by members of his family. He was seventy-four years old.
George began his service to Bowdoin and our students during the 1973–1974 academic year as a visiting lecturer in legal studies. He would later serve as a lecturer in government; as a visiting lecturer in the Senior Center Program; and as a visiting lecturer in education. Among the courses he taught were constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, education and law, and mental health law.
A 1973 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, George led a distinguished career as an attorney. Following his graduation from law school, and prior to entering private practice, he was law clerk to Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Thomas E. Delahanty. He was also past chairman of both the Maine Council of School Board Attorneys and the Maine Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Evidence and served as a member of the Federal Appellate Court Rules Committee. He wrote, lectured, and testified before congressional committees, on issues relating to the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, and argued before state and federal appellate courts throughout the country, including twice before the US Supreme Court. He served as an associate at the Portland law firm of Jensen Baird Gardner Donovan and Henry before joining his fourth cousins Irving and Peter Isaacson at Brann and Isaacson in 1976, where was later senior partner. Regularly listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” a peer-selected referral guide, George also served as general counsel to L.L. Bean.
George’s highly successful legal and teaching careers were complemented by extensive public service in Maine. Over the years, he was chair of the board of trustees of MaineHealth; a trustee of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Maine Medical Center, and the Brunswick International Music Festival; and a director of the Livermore Falls Trust Company.
George is survived by his wife of forty-two years, Margaret; his daughters, Emily and Abigail ’08; his son, Nathan ’10; and seven grandchildren.
The Isaacson family invites members of the Bowdoin community to George’s funeral on Wednesday, August 23, at 10:00 a.m. in the Bowdoin Chapel. Following a brief family graveside service and burial, the family will hold a reception at 12:00 p.m. in Main Lounge, Moulton Union.
In his five decades of teaching at Bowdoin, George mentored and inspired hundreds of students in the study of the law, and he will be missed in our classrooms and our community. I know you join us in sending condolences to his family and in our gratitude for George’s long and valuable service to the College.