Isaac Jack Pakula (left ‘55) passed away from pancreatic cancer at his home in Wilson, NC, on August 26. He was 67.
Isaac was born in the Bronx in 1945. He attended J.H.S. 47 from 1950 to 1955 and was the first Deaf student along with some hard of hearing students from J.H.S. 47 to be mainstreamed at P.S. 40. He then went on to Taft High School, graduating in 1963. At Gallaudet College (now University), he received a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1970. He then earned a master’s degree from California State University Northridge (CSUN) in 1976.
For 38 years, Isaac worked at five deaf schools as a teacher and as a coach: West Virginia School for the Deaf, California School for the Deaf, Texas School for the Deaf, New York School for the Deaf (Fanwood) and Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf.
Isaac was an all-around teacher, mentor, advisor, counselor and coach. He was often called the Pied Piper for his ability to draw students wherever he went. Isaac adored his students as much as they adored him. He showed extraordinary patience and care for students with additional disabilities, and often gave up his personal time to assist whenever he could. He taught the students how to advocate for themselves, gave them a nudge in the right direction, and educated them on their rights. He passed his enthusiasm onto his students through sports, coaching, volunteering in crises, counseling, and advising. To best describe Isaac is to say: “The kids loved him for who he was to them, not for what he was to them.”
Isaac is survived by his wife, Randi of 20 years, his children and grandson in Texas as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren in Minnesota.
He is buried next to his mother, 1978 “47” Hall of Fame awardee Dorothy (Finkelstein) Pakula, ’42, and his father, 1980 Man of the Year awardee in New York’s Beth David Cemetery.
In 2003, to show recognition of and appreciation for his devotion in working closely with Deaf children and the community, “47” Alumni Association of the Deaf presented him the 2003 Man of the Year Award. He will be missed by all.