Thomas Joseph Isula was born on February 27th, 1960, in the city of good neighbors, Buffalo, NY. Thomas had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, particularly in the field of electrical engineering. At a young age, he had already replicated most experiments from one of his favorite idols, Nikola Tesla. Through the loud crack of high voltage plasma and intense light around the garage door, his mother could do little, but encourage him to be safe in the family garage converted laboratory.
In his early years, Thomas worked as a sound engineer for some of the most influential artists of our time. This ignited his passion for music and blended his love for electrical engineering in a way that would echo to his four children. He had a love for HI-FI audio and in particular, McIntosh amplifiers, so much so that even his laboratory could not evade the playing of records softly at any available moment. Thomas also worked as a training consultant, specializing in electrical maintenance and industrial automation, where he designed training programs for General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. Thomas’ thirst for knowledge and inquisitiveness of electronics propelled him into the learning environment, where he would eventually go from a teaching assistant to a full-time instructor. Thomas was an educator of the highest regard, teaching the electrical engineering of tomorrow to the youth of today. His love for sharing his passion of electronics with his students and helping them achieve successful careers was his purpose, leading him to teach technical electronics and computer technology for 46 years, the longest teaching career at Erie 1 BOCES in New York State. Thomas’ students have gone on to work for some of the most influential and prestigious engineering and R&D firms in the world, crediting their success to his mentorship and guidance.
Thomas had many passions from wreck diving the great lakes, amateur radio, collecting quirky t-shirts, photography, and camping and exploring places seldom seen, but one of his favorite things to do was volunteer at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, where he was the Chief Electrical Engineer for over 20 years and an Ensign in The Sullivans Division U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Thomas’ service and dedication to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park earned him the title of “Naval Park MacGyver” and eventually the prestigious Bos’n Marvin Curry Award in 2013 for his interpretation, maintenance, preservation, restoration and love of the ships. Although he was a man of much devotion, Thomas’ greatest passion of all, next to teaching, was astronomy and his love for all things NASA and space. Thomas was infatuated by space, so much so that he applied to be the first teacher in space, as part of NASA’s Challenger mission back in the 1980s. A signed Guenter Wendt photo always hung above his desk and at any moment you could hear him quoting Doctor Leonard McCoy. This launch, his final adventure to the unknown, is the proper send-off for a true pioneer. Fair Winds and Following Seas. Rest easy, Dad, we have the helm.
Thomas leaves behind his beloved four children, Amanda Mamo (Isula) (33), Thomas Isula II (30), Andrew Isula (27), Joseph Isula (25), his grandson, Thomas Isula III (5) and his two Basset Hounds, “Sherman Beauregard Tank of the Greater Niagara” and Mabel.