David Frederick Isles Profile Photo

David Frederick Isles

September 23, 1935 — July 1, 2023

David Frederick Isles

David Frederick Isles, 87, of Concord, VT passed away in the late hours of Saturday night, July 1, 2023, at his home.

David was born in Rahway, NJ on September 23, 1935, to Frederick W., and Emma (Weber) Isles.  He graduated from high school in Cranford, NJ, Class of 1953, and went on to Princeton University, graduating in 1957, and was later awarded his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964.  David was a well-loved and engaging professor of mathematics, and an active member of the Tufts University community for over 40 years.  He specialized in the field of mathematical logic, and author of dozens of manuscripts and journal articles.  

On May 20, 1972, David married Karin Elizabeth Johnson.  The couple lived in Cambridge, MA, but maintained a second home in Concord until, upon retirement in 2006, they made Concord their permanent residence.  They shared 51 joyful and adventurous years of marriage.  

David’s loved ones would describe him as an affectionate and loving husband, a caring and supportive father, a tender and devoted son and brother, a doting and playful grandfather and uncle, a generous and kind-hearted friend, and a friendly and helpful neighbor.

David was a sentimental, curious soul, a voracious reader, and continued to learn new things until the end of his days. David was a student of history and science, who could converse intelligently about any subject, and was proficient in 6 languages.  On any given day, you might see him reading the latest history of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a copy of the Lord of the Rings (in German), corresponding with fellow logicians around the world, whipping up a batch of hummingbird nectar, or baking a loaf of Swedish cardamom bread.  He was just as fascinated by the construction of a stone wall, or the decorating of a Christmas tree, as he was by the development of bamboo drills in ancient China, or the proof of a mathematical theorem.  He was an exceptionally charismatic man, and a compelling storyteller and raconteur, and was often the life of the party.  He found something to celebrate in every moment. 

David was a humanitarian who supported charities around the world, a long-time activist against the dangers posed to life on earth by nuclear weapons, and a strident critic of social and economic inequality.  He was an adventurer who visited six continents, a sailor who voyaged the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on research vessels, and a mountaineer who scaled peaks around the world. He was a member of the 1971 International Himalayan Expedition to Mt Everest, and a member of numerous other expeditions to the Alps, the Andes, the Karakoram, the Rockies, and the White Mountains, among other ranges. He was an active outdoorsman, and loved skiing, canoeing, swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, running, tennis, windsurfing and croquet; he completed the Boston Marathon three times. In his later years, he loved looking out over Mt. Lafayette and Franconia Notch from his home above Shadow Lake.  He was endlessly enthralled by the changing of the seasons and the qualities of light, and the magic of rainbows. He was a lifelong lover of photography, sometimes to the frustration of family members (“Just one more”)!  He loved music, opera, and dance. He loved simple creature comforts such as fresh picked raspberries, strawberries, and peaches, cold beer and cold milk, champagne in a chilled flute, pineapple ice cream, Peking duck, baklava, marmalade, and English toffee.

Survivors include his loving wife: Karin Isles of Concord; two sons: Matthew Isles and Mary Spaulding of Irondequoit, NY, and Peter Isles and Dominique Maier of South Burlington, VT; four grandchildren: Eleanor, Henry, Hazel, and Ivy; nieces and nephew: Sharon Bailey, Susan Isles, Heather Johnson, and Robert Johnson; and two sisters-in-law: Ingrid Johnson, and Mary Johnson.

He was predeceased by his parents: Frederick Isles of NYC, NY, and Emma Weber Isles, of Mollis, Switzerland; and his two brothers: Robert and Ted Isles. 

A memorial will be held at a later date.

Condolences and reminiscences about David, and inquiries about the memorial service, can be sent to davidislesmemorial@gmail.com.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Frederick Isles, please visit our flower store.


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