Tuesday, May 30, 1922
Date of Death:
Thursday, October 1, 2020
98 years old
James Isaacson, of Rochester, MN, passed away peacefully, under the care of Seasons Hospice of Rochester, at his home at The Waters on Mayowood on October 1, 2020, with his wife and daughter by his side. “Jim” was 98 years old and lived a very good life.
Jim was born on May 30, 1922 in Rosholt, SD, the youngest of five children of Peter and Augusta (Larson) Isaacson. He grew up on a farm south of Rosholt, attended a traditional one-room country school for eight years, then Rosholt high school, followed by two years of Jr. College in Wahpeton, ND, where he earned an Associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
He entered the US Navy in May of 1943, serving in WWII for 33 months on the amphibious flagship USS Eldorado as an Electronic Technician’s Mate First Class in the Pacific war zone where he engaged in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
After the war, he used the GI bill to get his college degree from the University of MN, receiving a BS degree in Electrical Engineering. He was employed by the Section of Engineering at the Mayo Clinic. He ascended to the head of the Engineering Department, and retired from Mayo in 1986 after 39 years. During his employment, he was instrumental in the design and application of medical devices and instrumentations that pioneered the advancement of medical technology. He worked alongside the Cardiovascular Department to pioneer the development of the first “heart-lung” bypass machine, the ECG patient monitoring system first used in St. Marys in 1965, distribution of inspired gas during anesthesia, and fiber optic lasers used for repairing defects in the heart. He contributed to the design and development of numerous specialized medical devices used by the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere, including the Cuvette oximeter, which he and a colleague patented (one of two US Patents Jim and his Mayo colleagues transferred to Research Corporation) and the hemaquat collection device. He also helped establish the satellite communication network between the Mayo clinics in Scottsdale, AZ, Jacksonville, FL, and Rochester, MN. Jim was a past chairman of the local chapter of IEEE, past president of the Olmsted County Toastmasters, and a member of the Rotary Club.
On October 5, 1957, he married the love of his life, Norma Wilson, in Cresco, Iowa. They were married for 63 years and had three children: Janae, Sharon, and Steven.
Jim loved his family, and loved attending their band concerts, countless athletic events, and family vacations, traveling with their pop-up camper to visit many western states and National Parks. Jim enjoyed the challenge of “fixing things”, and helped his children with countless home improvement projects. He enjoyed square dancing, bowling, golfing, playing cards, and walking. He and Norma traveled on multiple tours overseas to Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, Italy, and to the warmer climates of Costa Rica and Hawaii. When not traveling, he enjoyed volunteering for the Salvation Army, Bethel Lutheran Church, Channel One, Meals on Wheels and Community Food Response. He was a member of the Sons of Norway and the Century Squares Dance Club.
Jim is survived by his wife, Norma; his daughter, Sharon (Kim) Isaacson-Thielen, of Prior Lake, MN; his son, Steve (Kelly) Isaacson of Ellicott City, MD; and five grandchildren, Amanda (Uriah) Peterson, Eric (Samantha) White, Ryan (Sarah) White, Joshua Isaacson, and Lauren Isaacson. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Janae White, and his siblings.
Memorial services will be held at noon on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester, with Pastor Norman Wahl officiating. Jim will be laid to rest in the Columbarium at Bethel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Seasons Hospice of Rochester or Bethel Lutheran Church.
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The family of James Isaacson has received the following condolences.
I remember you and Jim coming to pack home deliveries at Channel One. That was such a big help to me! I don't think I realized what Jim had done professionally as he was such a modest man. I am sorry for your loss, but at 98 years he lived a good, long life and you had him with you for a wonderful amount of time, also. My sympathy to you.
Former Program Director at Channel One
We were so sorry to hear about Jim's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of his family. Our deepest sympathy to everyone.