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Ian Isdale



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1927-2021. Dates with a dash. Summarizing a life of places and names, but fails to convey the joy in life and innate kindness that was embodied by Ian Isdale of North Branford, formerly of Orange, Conn., and Ashfield, Mass.

The world lost a bit of sunlight when Ian passed on February 5 after a courageous battle with a glioblastoma, leaving behind such precious memories and ragged holes in the hearts of all those that knew and loved him.

Ian was the only child of John Skinner Isdale, inventor of the Gillette adjustable safety razor, and Winifred Clara Gillingham Isdale of Meriden, Conn. Ian was, above all, truly a good man. He was kind, he loved his family, his friends, his country, and always had a smile and tried to be of good cheer. He was quiet, intellectually curious, and engaged in technology throughout his life. He was proud of his service in the US Army Air Corps and maintained his love of radios throughout his life. He graduated from Tri-State College in Angola, Ind., returning to Connecticut and marrying his dear Mary Ann Kinne in 1950.

They had a long and happy marriage, first living in New Haven and then Orange, and raising three children together. Ian had a great career, with travel beyond what he ever expected, employed by Honeywell, Beckman Instruments, Bell & Howell Microcircuits, Ledu, and then with his own independent sales rep business.

He enjoyed camping, sailing on Long Island Sound, and always could be found in his workshop or garage surrounded by his latest projects, continuing to tinker and repair radios, and anything else that needed fixing, until shortly before his death. He loved Mozart, Bach, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He always enjoyed attending a country fair, especially the Orange Agricultural Fair where he would show his Corvairs or tractors, and enjoyed working in the Historical Tool Booth explaining what each tool was used for and talking with everyone.

Ian’s happy place was a farm in Ashfield, Mass., which he and Mary Ann purchased in the late 1970s and spent many happy days. Ian could always be found working with his tractors in the meadows and woods. He met his midlife nemesis with a family of beavers and they continued a good-natured rivalry for ownership of the creek. The beavers won, and Ian learned to enjoy the birds and wildflowers that flourished in his lost meadow, now a marsh.

In 2010, they moved to Evergreen Woods, where Ian took on leadership roles within the community, reconnected with old friends, and made many new ones. After the loss of Mary Ann in 2016, Ian stayed active, enjoying walks, and continuing to work his farm as long as possible.

Ian’s predisposition for kindness with no strings attached had a huge impact on his family who remain immensely grateful for his presence in their lives and the joys he shared. He is survived by son John (Jolene) Isdale of Newtown; son Gerald Isdale of Haiku, Maui, Hawaii; daughter M. Holly Isdale of Hawley, Penn., and NYC, N.Y.; grandchildren Abby Ryan, Jack Ryan, Eddy Isdale, Brian Isdale, Justin (Paty) Durelli, Jennifer Durelli, and Hayley Isdale; several nieces and nephews; and numerous friends.

We offer our sincere thanks to the many friends who visited or called Ian during the COVID lockdown and his illness. His doctors and nurses at Yale New Haven Oncology and at Connecticut Hospice were without peer in his journey. We are especially grateful to Iris Kuerbitz and Carolyn Proctor for their friendship, love, and care they provided to him.

A memorial service will be held at a later date to celebrate Ian’s life and allow us to gather free of COVID restrictions.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Orange Congregational Church Nursery School.

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