Cover photo for Tom Isle's Obituary
Tom Isle Profile Photo
1945 Tom 2024

Tom Isle

July 22, 1945 — June 23, 2024


Thomas Richard Isle of Brainerd, MN, passed peacefully on Sunday June 23, 2024, at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center, with family by his side.

Ironically, this was the very hospital he was born in, 78 years ago, on July 22, 1945. Tom was the eldest of four children born to Richard and Cassie (Bell) Isle.

Tom attended Kreck Elementary; a one room schoolhouse located in rural Brainerd. He graduated from Brainerd’s Washington High School in 1963. Following graduation, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1966 after serving 34 months in Germany. Tom returned to Brainerd where he married Ilene Callahan. They had three children, Richard, Lisa and David.

Tom was hired by Potlatch Corporation (Brainerd in 1966. Potlatch was later sold to Missota Paper and eventually to Wausau Paper. Tom retired from the paper mill in 2012 after 46 years of dedicated and loyal service.

Tom married Debby Mackey on September 6, 1986. They enjoyed many years of hosting family and friends, time spent with the grandkids and traveling. One of their highlights was riding their bicycles (105 miles) to Bemidji, MN, for Tom’s 62nd birthday.

Apart from his service in the Army, Tom spent his entire life in Brainerd. He loved his community and spent endless hours volunteering over the years. He served on many boards including Community Action, YMCA, Senior Center, United Way, Missions Board at Lakewood Evangelical Free Church, and Salvation Army, where he served many years as the Emergency Disaster Team Coordinator.

His service did not go unnoticed as he was the recipient of many awards over the years, including Brainerd’s Citizen of the Year in 1990.

If there was just one word to describe Tom, it would be “servant”. Tom was a humble servant whose goal was always to make a positive difference in someone’s life. He found peace and fulfillment by serving others.

He shared his gifts of cooking, baking and cake making with family, friends and while serving on the Salvation Army Disaster Team. Although many tried to pry his amazing bean recipe from him, he kept it to himself. When asked for the recipe, Tom’s response was always, “They say you can’t take it with you, but guess what – this, I can!”

Tom's baked beans were one of the favorites enjoyed by family and friends. However, it was a recipe he refused to share. Many tried to coax or manipulate him for the recipe. In fact, some would tell him he didn't need to bother with a wedding gift, just give them the bean recipe. And a few years ago, after serving a meal (which included Tom's beans) at a Disaster Team Training event, the Sheriff from Morrison County approached Tom and asked for the recipe. But Tom let him know he doesn't share the bean recipe. The Sherriff quickly responded: "Well, you know, Tom, I could have you arrested for withholding evidence." Despite the threat, Tom did not give up the bean recipe.

So, for many years family and friends would insist that Deb get the recipe. There were even comments made that Tom could not die a quick, unexpected, death but rather he would need to die a slow, lingering, death so we could get the bean recipe out of him. Tom's response: "Well, they say you can't take it with you, but guess what? I CAN take the bean recipe with me."

We would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to Tom's wonderful doctors and staff for their awesome love and care over the years: Dr. Christian DeBranin, Dr. Michael Curran, Dr. Gregory Whiteman and Dr. Steven Harder and Nurse Lois. Also, Dr. Abi Phillip and his wonderful staff; Dr.Susan Skarp, Dr. Laura Joque, as well as all of the staff at the VA; along with the many doctors at Mayo Clinic (Rochester).

A special "Thank You" to our awesome, generous, and protective neighbors, Debbie (Gladys) and Terry Thorkelson.

Those left to cherish his love and memories are his wife of 37 years, Debby (Mackey) Isle, son Richard, Sarah and grandsons, Jeremy and Charles (Anoka, MN); son David, Melodie and stepdaughters, Rayna, Abby and Jocelyn (Marquette, MI), brother, Andy (Barb Isle, Sierra Vista, AZ; sisters, Phyliss (Steven) Wilkens, and Patty Long, both of AZ. Sister-in-law, Marni Mackey (St. James, MN); sister-in-law, Connie (Tom) Posch (Northfield, MN); sister-in-law, Jeanie Johnson (Bloomington, MN); brother-in-law, Curt (Corinne) Mackey (St. James, MN); sister-in-law, Melissa Mackey (Omaha, NE). Also, Tom will be missed by Bonnie Muzik, dear family friend; along with many other friends and relatives, especially some of his favorite nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

Tom looked forward to meeting his loved ones who passed before him; his daughter, Lisa Hallman; his parents, Richard and Cassie Isle, in-laws, BJ and Gwynieth Mackey; two brothers-in-law, Don Mackey and Dave Mackey, and former wife, Ilene Isle.

Tom’s family would like to thank his awesome doctors, nurses and staff for their love, care and compassion over the past several years. You have each made his and our journey so much easier.

In spite of all Tom’s worldly trophies and accolades, what mattered most to him, was meeting Jesus face to face and hearing: “Well done good and faithful servant”.

The visitation for Tom will be held on Sunday June 30, 2024, from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at the Brenny Family Funeral Chapel in Baxter.

Celebration of Life will be held on Monday July 1, 2024, at 10:30 am at Lakewood Church in Baxter. There will be a visitation held one hour prior to the start of the service at the church. Lunch will be served following the service. Burial will be at 2:00 pm at Camp Ripley Veterans Cemetery, 15550 Hwy 15, Little Falls, MN.

“Let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Arrangements are entrusted to Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, Baxter.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, June 30, 2024

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

Brenny Family Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services - Baxter-Brainerd

7348 Excelsior Rd., Baxter, MN 56425

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Monday, July 1, 2024

9:30 - 10:30 am (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Monday, July 1, 2024

10:30 - 11:30 am (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Graveside Service

Monday, July 1, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery

15550 Hwy 15, Little Falls, MN 56345

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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