Lansing town officials have placed a new plaque at the Salt Point Natural Area as a tribute to area resident George Isaac. The Lansing Town Board voted on a resolution in 2019 to honor him and name the cove north of Salt Point as George Isaac Cove.
Isaac, age 98, was born in 1923 and raised in Lansing on Myers Heights Road (aka Syrian Hill). After attending Lansing High School, he was drafted into the U.S. Army on January 7, 1943. He achieved the rank of Corporal with Company L, 30th Infantry, having served during World War II in nine countries in northern Africa and Europe, including three invasions.
The blue and yellow plaque reads “Honoring George (Gus) Isaac – WWII Army Corporal, Recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Knight of the French Foreign Legion of Honor medal. Lifelong Lansing resident and avid fisherman. Employee of International Salt Co. at this site.”
“I was surprised to have something like that done for an army soldier,” Isaac said about the Town’s tribute. “The cove is my favorite fishing place.”
According to the Town Board resolution, during the Battle of Colomar Pocket, Isaac “…rebuilt a bridge with two comrades under continued enemy tank and machine gun fire, allowing allied troops to retreat to defensive positions.” In 2011, Corporal Isaac received the Legion of Honor medal from French President Nicholas Sarkozy in recognition for his contributions in liberating France during the war.
“Gus wasn’t just in the war,” said Katrina Binkewicz, a former Town Board member who helped pass the resolution. “He walked across multiple countries as an enlisted man carrying heavy equipment, was wounded several times and returned to action.”
The resolution also calls out Isaac’s “…service to, and friendship within, our community…” He has been a lifelong member of St. George Orthodox Church and a member of the Lansing/Groton Masonic Lodge.
“Gus is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” said Patrick Tyrrell, Supervisor, Town of Lansing Parks and Recreation. “The reason the Cove is being named for Gus is that is his ‘fishing hole.’ He’d like to think no one else knows about it but he pretty much drops anchor in the same spot every time he goes out.”
In 1945, after the war ended, Isaac returned to Lansing and began working at the International Salt Co. plant, what is now called Salt Point Natural Area. He worked in the shipping department, sewing 100-pound bags of salt, until the plant closed in 1962. He has a photograph showing the “Last Bag” of salt from the plant with the date of Nov. 14, 1962. The bag is signed by Isaac and his co-workers. He then worked coating glass at Evaporated Metal Films.
Isaac’s father, Anthony Isaac, had also worked at the salt plant as an engineer on the boilers. They lived in company housing on Syrian Hill. Isaac married Nina Castelin and had two daughters, Judy Isaac and Pamela Isaac Fisk, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
“As much as Gus has given to this town and country, it’s nice we can give this tribute to him,” said Tyrrell.
Said Binkewicz, “We ought never forget those that fought, suffered, persevered, and carried on as fine human beings back on our soil.”
Asked why he chose to stay in Lansing for so many years, Isaac said, “I was in nine different countries. Lansing is the best place of all.”