Gustaf Evald Isaksson, born May 9, 1922 in Herbster, Wis., died peacefully on his 91st birthday. Gus was born and raised the fourth son of Alfred and Esther Isaksson. He grew up on the south shore of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin and graduated from Herbster High School with honors. Gus spent his childhood, as did most working-class boys of the 1920s and '30s, mixing school with long hours working in The Isaksson Lumber Company family business. Gus had four siblings: three older brothers, Albert, Axel and Leroy, and a younger sister Inez. Despite receiving a military exemption from the Sullivan Clause, Gus enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve his country during World War II. Following his brother Leroy's advice, he requested training in electronics and was almost immediately chosen for Wild Bill Donovan's emerging OSS. Though stationed outside London, England, he spent time behind enemy lines in Vichy, France, monitoring and decoding enemy radio traffic and gathering intelligence. Though he did not see combat, his activities in Vichy, would have seen him shot as a spy if caught. Gus met his future wife, Aline McMillan in London during his deployment in England and they were married in May 1945.
Following WWII, Gus attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison and then the Illinois Institute of Technology, graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. He was an avid Wisconsin Badgers fan for the remainder of his life. Gus went on to work for the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge, Tenn., then Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and finally National Rubber Machinery in Columbiana, and Akron. He had a distinguished business career and spent many years travelling and building business relationships internationally in Korea, India, Japan, China, Australia, Brazil and eastern Europe prior to the fall of the Berlin wall.
In addition to his executive positions at NRM Corporation, he shared his knowledge as a visiting professor at Rayen School of Engineering at Youngstown State University. He was a philanthropist and active community member involved with a variety of nonprofit organizations including the Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, Youngstown Symphony, Fellows Riverside Gardens, and the Presbyterian Church. He enjoyed golf, bowling, rides in the country, picnics, and was an avid Wisconsin Badgers fan. Did I say he was an avid Badgers fan?
He was married for 38 years to Aline Kathleen McMillan, raising five children together. Gus lost his first wife to cancer in 1983, but found new life eight years later with his second love, Catherine Parker. Catherine was also widowed and Gus and Catherine spent the next 14 years rediscovering life as seniors and experiencing the richness of a combined family unit. After Catherine's death in 2005, Gus moved to Kennesaw, Ga., to live with his son, Pete and his wife Kathy, and an extended family of grandchildren and great grandchildren. He remained a northern Yankee despite all efforts to reform him. We never got a "y'all" out of him but he did become a big fan of the Atlanta Braves, bless his heart.
Admired for his intelligence, sense of humor, family values and "just plain decency", Gus is survived by, and will be greatly missed by, his daughters Katie Perrin, Maureen Peebles, Barbara Horvatis (Jack), son Pete (Kathy) Isaksson, and daughter Kristen Isaksson Barnett, 10 adoring grandchildren, five great grandchildren, an "adopted grandchild-in-law", a sister Inez (Floyd) Callum and brother Leroy (Maxine) Isaksson. In addition, Gus is survived by three stepchildren - Ted (Carla) Parker, Alan (Estelle) Parker, Midge Utz, and three step-grandchildren. He will be missed by a large contingent of extended family and friends internationally. He was preceded in death by his brothers Albert and Axel, and his wives, Aline and Catherine.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Carmichael Funeral Home in Marietta, Ga.