Jonathan Trumbull Isham Sr., 93, of Middlebury
“And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the Fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.”
— William Butler Yeats
MIDDLEBURY — Jonathan Trumbull Isham Sr. died peacefully at home on Feb. 21, 2023, spending his last days with Libby Isham, his loving and much-loved wife of 67 years, and his devoted family.
Jon was born in New York, N.Y., on Feb. 24, 1929, to Ralph Heyward Isham and Margaret (Hurt) Isham. After schooling at St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., and at Yale, where he was a star for the Dramatic Association and a member of Berzelius and the Aurelian Honor Society, Jon served as a roughneck in Louisiana in the early 1950s. He then enlisted in the Air Force, serving his country in London as a Special Agent for Scotland Yard.
Starting in the mid-1950s, Jon worked in New York City in executive recruiting and investment banking, including as the Vice-Chairman of Drexel Burnham Lambert. In the 1970s, while serving on the board of St. George’s School, he launched with Captain Stephen Connett the school’s Geronimo Program, “an experiential marine science program designed to develop leadership and seamanship skills.”
In 1979, Libby and Jon moved to Newport, R.I., where they made many dear friends and supported a range of local organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Redwood Library, the Newport Historical Society, and the Naval War College. In the 1980s Jon also was a proud member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.
In 2004, Libby and Jon settled into their Middlebury home. Jon loved his years in Addison County, buying his first pair of jeans upon arrival and bringing his love of storytelling and good company to volunteer work alongside Libby with Everybody Wins, Meals on Wheels, and the Charter House. He was also a dedicated bridge player and a founder of the Grumpy Geezer Group, a source of daily morning wisdom at the Middlebury Coop for many years. A gifted chef and a boisterous raconteur, Jon was at his happiest when hosting friends and family by Libby’s side.
In addition to his wife Libby, Jon is survived by daughters Margaret Isham and Elizabeth Nichols (Foster Nichols); son Jonathan Isham (Tracy Himmel Isham); grand-children Julia Maddox (Ross Maddox), Holly Hughes (Christopher Garay), Ted Nichols (Jenny Wolahan), Libby Willson (Jack Willson), Faith Isham, Katie Isham and Lily Isham; and great-grandchildren Samuel Hughes Maddox, Max Hughes Garay, Abigail Isham Garay and Elizabeth Wade Willson.
Jon’s family offer deep gratitude to the many caregivers who supported him during his final months, including the patient staff of Porter Medical Center and Helen Porter Rehabilitation and the caring leaders of the Palliative Care Team and Addison County Home Health Hospice.
The family will hold a private service. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to a civic organization that spreads love and mirth, in equal measure. ◊
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