Remembering Charles Arthur (Butch) Isaac

A very special soul 

Charles Isaac, known to family and friends as Butch Isaac, and I have been very close for nearly 80 years. While I was bigger and stronger, he had much more heart on the athletic fields.

Butch was a caring older brother, and I looked up to him. He took interest in my activities and offered advice and encouragement. He loved to build things – the best doghouse I’ve ever seen for his new Collie puppy, the most fabulous model ships I’ve ever seen and, most impressively, he bought a beat-up MG TD convertible, took over our garage and completely restored the car by himself. It was the most wonderful car I had ever seen.

I will always remember my last football game in high school. It was parents’ night, and our dad had a severe heart attack the day before. Butch came home from college to be with him. Dad was in an oxygen tent at Cameron hospital which was situated near the end zone of the football field. I was very emotional about dad and decided I would not play in the game. My dad wanted me to play but I just couldn’t. Butch insisted and said he would escort me out on the field at the game in place of our dad. I played my heart out that night for Butch and our dad who could hear every play from his hospital bed – “Isaac tackles” boomed on the loudspeaker throughout the night. I never played so well, our Dad lived another 25 years, and my bond with Butch grew even stronger.

When it came time for me to go to college, I followed Butch to Miami University and entered the year after Butch graduated. I went through fraternity rush. I was torn between two and decided that I would join Butch’s fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta.

When I graduated from Miami, I wanted to go back to Bryan to work in the Isaac family businesses as Butch had done. That wasn’t to be, and the Vietnam war was raging so I decided to attend law school at Ohio State. Ironically, that forged another strong bond with Butch. I was a serious student in law school and never attended an Ohio State football game in three years there. After I graduated, I became a donor to Ohio State for the rest of my life and was able to purchase four season seats on the 50-yard line. I never lived in Columbus after law school, so I let Butch have the tickets, literally for the rest of his life. He soon became one of the most devoted and proud OSU football fans ever! He and I attended nearly every Ohio State bowl game the rest of his life.

Last Saturday Butch and his wonderful partner, Pam Clark, watched the Ohio State game together and had dinner. Some 12 hours later, Butch died in Pam’s arms. I don’t believe he could have ever scripted a better ending for his great life. I didn’t get to say goodbye, but I spoke with him by phone last Friday and texted him “Go Bucks” during Saturday’s game.

I’ve never known a better family man than Butch. He was all about family and friends. He adored his two girls, Debbie and Kim, and his bride, Brenda, whom he met at Miami University. They married in 1963, and I was best man at his wedding as he was at mine in 1965. Brenda died three years ago, and Butch took loving care of her at their Clear Lake home for years prior to her death. He also took loving care of our dad and mom, who died in 1987 and 1988 after long illnesses.

Butch absolutely loved Clear Lake and snow skiing with his family. He served in important civic and charitable roles in Bryan – such as heading the school board, where he purchased the site for the incredible new middle and high schools and football field. He loved his years serving as a high-level leader in the Masons and Shriners, and he organized and led the Bryan swim team. He spent his entire life loving his friends and family. And he never stopped reading and learning.

I know we will all miss this beautiful soul, none for than I. He will always live in our hearts, and I know we will join him again in another life.