Isaac, '48, Remembered as Legend, Mentor

Elkin Isaac was a three-time all-MIAA performer in men's basketball
Elkin Isaac was a three-time all-MIAA performer in men's basketball.

Share your thoughts and memories of Elkin Isaac

August 14, 2013

Elkin R. "Ike" Isaac, ’48, a legendary figure at Albion College, passed away Aug. 13.

Isaac participated in both football and basketball at Albion. For his outstanding performances on the basketball court, he earned all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association honors three times, in 1943, 1946 and 1947. He was captain and voted most valuable player of the 1947 team.

His college career was interrupted from 1943 to 1945 as he served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot in World War II. After graduation from Albion, he began a great career as a coach and later as athletic director at his alma mater.

Isaac coached four different sports at Albion—football, basketball, track and cross country. An assistant coach in 1953 and then head basketball coach from 1953 to 1959, he led his 1957 team to the MIAA championship. From 1953 to 1962 he was track coach, and his squad won six consecutive MIAA championships from 1954-1959. Isaac then coached the cross country teams from 1962 to 1969, leading the Britons to three consecutive MIAA titles from 1964-1966. In recognition of his contributions to Albion athletics, the College's varsity track at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium was named in his honor.

"Ike personified Albion College," said Mike Turner, ’69, who had a combined 72 seasons of head coaching experience at Albion, including 34 in men's basketball. "He valued his relationships with those whose lives had touched and molded his. He loved his family, cherished his friends and truly cared about his former student-athletes. His many lessons and philosophies helped to shape the lives of those who were fortunate enough to have been mentored by Ike. He will forever be an Albion legend and a teacher and coach to those of us who learned in his classrooms, played on his teams, or just sat in his home and listened to stories."

As athletic director he organized and directed the College's intramural sports program and created Albion's "Earn, Learn, and Play" program as well as "Albion Summer Adventure," which provided a memorable camp experience at Albion College for many children of alumni and friends.

Upon leaving Albion in 1975, Isaac went to the University of the Pacific, and eventually became athletic director, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.

"Ike's passing is a great loss for Albion College," said Frank Joranko, who was hired by Isaac to become Albion's football coach. "He emphasized the student aspect of athletics."

Tom Schwaderer, '56, a member of the Elkin R. Isaac Endowment Committee, added, "So many of us have had the good fortune of knowing Ike. I've had a three dimensional relationship with Ike over the past sixty years, which I would label good, better and best. First, he was an exemplary coach in my three sports. Second he has been a wise and trusted mentor. Last, and most important, he was a devoted friend. I will miss him, his intellect, his sense of humor and his ability to bring out the best in everyone and everything."

Elkin Isaac, '48, with Rachel Leads, '10, in a March 2010 photo.
Elkin Isaac, '48, with research symposium participant Rachel Leads, '10, in a March 2010 photo.

Albion alumni honored their former teacher, coach and mentor in 1991 by creating the Elkin R. Isaac Endowed Lectureship. The lectureship expanded in 1997 to become associated with Albion’s annual student research symposium, featuring presentations by students recommended by their faculty sponsors for outstanding independent study and research. The symposium now bears Isaac's name.

Isaac was preceded in death by his wife, Edith, and son, Ron, ’69. He is survived by his daughter, Sue (Manu) Dubois; daughter-in-law Amy (John) Isaac Perlick; granddaughters Natalie Dubois, ’97 (Michael Hornish), and Brigitte Dubois, ’01; and grandsons Elliott Isaac and Jonathan Isaac; and great-grandson Nicholas Hornish.

Messages of remembrance can be shared with the family at the following address:

c/o Natalie Dubois
28 W. Myrtle St.
Alexandria, VA 22301

Isaac will be laid to rest with military honors at Lakeside Cemetery, Libertyville, IL in a family ceremony Saturday, Aug. 31, at 1 p.m. CT. Friends will be welcomed beginning at 2 p.m. for a 2:30 p.m. celebration-of-life service at Burnett-Dane Funeral Home, 120 W. Park Ave., Libertyville, 847/362-3009. A reception will follow the service at 29471 Northwoods Drive, Libertyville.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent in Isaac's memory to: Albion College, Attn: Office of Institutional Advancement, 611 E. Porter St., Albion, MI 49224. Members of the Albion College community are encouraged to share memories of Isaac on Facebook and Twitter, and are welcome to send e-mail to . E-mailed remembrances will be published on the Albion.edu website and a selection will be included in the next issue of Io Triumphe! magazine.