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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Isaac, Robert P. & Julie (Harris)

by Julie Isaac
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While the Isaacs may be looked on as “cheechakos” compared to most Gastineau area old-timers, this effort will merely be a “Condensed Reader’s Digest” version of the pertinent stats, plus a brief resume’ of the past 81 years — WOW — that one should live so long!!

Bob Isaac, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, also lived at various times in Greenville and Battle Creek. The Kellogg Company helped finance his several years at Western Michigan College of Education at Kalamazoo before Uncle Sam sent him greetings. His short stay at Camp Wheeler with the infantry was followed with Air Corps training at various AC bases in the south and west. He graduated as a bombardier, 2nd lieutenant, at Albuquerque. Ultimately he was assigned to CWT (Cold Weather Test) at Ladd Field, Fairbanks. At the end of the war, as a major on inactive status, he accepted a job as instructor and coach at the University of Alaska.

He took time out for his courtship and marriage to the former Julia Elizabeth Harris who grew up on a farm with four brothers and a sister at Winder, Georgia. Julie graduated from Winder High School and took a business course in nearby Monroe where she worked on The Walton Tribune and edited a column by Julia Peculiar. Is it any wonder she prefers being called Julie?

After Pearl Harbor, and seeing three of brothers off to the war, it was just a matter of months before she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps which a year later dropped the “auxiliary.” Overseas assignments were Brisbane, Australia; Hollandia, New Guinea; Tacloban, Leyte and lastly, Manila and Luzon in the Philippines.

Returning home after three years of service, it wasn’t easy adjusting to any kind of former routine. She found it difficult to talk about any of her experiences in light of what her brothers had gone through and about which they were reluctant to talk. First reported MIA, brother Hugh’s death was later confirmed by the War Department. (Several years ago, Bob and she visited his gravesite at Margraten, Holland.) Finally settling down as a student under the GI Bill at the University of Georgia, and doing quite well in journalism and Spanish, she was able to convince the Veterans’ Administration that she wished to be a linguist and needed to transfer to the University of Alaska to study Russian since the University of Georgia did not offer it. Her supplemental certificate of eligibility under the GI Bill specified “enrollment in the Russian language and allied subjects.” No one ever told her how unlike Russian was from French or Spanish - an entirely different alphabet!! The first year just about did her in and made it really easy to drop out for a year and go back to work at Ladd Field. When she did return to the University of Alaska, it was as secretary to Dean Duckering, who gave her away when Bob and she became Mr. and Mrs. in 1950.

Following their marriage, they returned to the States for more education; until an offer for a coaching and teaching position at Douglas High School for Bob brought them back. They bought their first home here and quickly became involved in the Methodist Church and civic and social functions of the little town (population approx. 500, but during the heyday of the gold mining era, it outnumbered Juneau!). Bob served on the Douglas City Council for about ten years, and Julie once had the audacity to run for Mayor — was shellacked and hasn’t sought public office since. In the past 25 years, there have been many changes in Douglas - economic, political and otherwise. It is no longer a city (swallowed up by Juneau), but merely a service area and the Douglas High school was lost when the school districts merged forty-five years ago.

The best and most important results of the Harris-Isaac merger: the children. Robert H. Isaac was born February 10, 1954. He is a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School and the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the missile program of the USAF. Active duty assignments have included Vandenburg AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Maxwell AFB, SAC Headquarters in Omaha, and the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs before being assigned to the Euro Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Now a Lt. Colonel, he expects to retire as soon as this tour is up. He’s been fortunate to have Sue and the children with him.

Amy Kay Isaac was born May 17, 1955. She and John Miller, of Saginaw, Michigan, were married August 6, 1 1976, in Anchorage, while on leave from their Prudhoe Bay pipeline jobs. Their daughter, Robin Nicole, born May 8, 1985, in Seattle, is their pride and joy. Amy pursued a career in the legal field, working several years for different firms, before going back to college. Once she received her associate degree from Shoreline College, she was “too burned out” to continue. They moved from Bothell to Madison, Connecticut, over five years ago, but they would willingly return if they could sell their Connecticut home and had jobs waiting here. Amy worked for five years on a semi-weekly newspaper, but the terrible hours and inadequate pay prompted her to move on. John, too, has switched jobs-from supervisor at Lender’s Bagels to computers. Despite his late start, he’s making every effort to catch up with special courses and working on the job.

Both families are great parents and excellent role models for their teenagers. Their parents are so thankful and proud of them and also credit their Alaska heritage! In this year - 2001, GOD BLESS AMERICA, ALASKA AND ALL THE PIONEERS!!!