Herman Chandle Ison, one of Portsmouth’s natives from the Greatest Generation, arrived nearly 101 years ago
on January 27, 1923. On Sunday, November 5th, this precious friend of many, and father of one, (Charles Ison,
and his wife Jan) quietly slipped away in his favorite chair at home on Ison Farm in Kings Mountain, North
Herman is preceded in death by his parents, Doc and Sally Mae Ison, and brothers Don and Bill. He is survived
by Cleo Ison, (wife to brother Don), nephew David Ison (wife Julie) and Barb Case (husband Gary) and
numerous great nieces and nephews, and extended family.
To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. As beautiful as any day at Herndon Farm Road can
be, Herman C. Ison stepped into even more beauty and joy when he met his Maker, and was reunited with
Jenny, the love of his life from Otway, Ohio.
The oldest of three boys, Herman was born at home in New Boston. Always the stoic survivor, both of life’s
challenges, and as an Army Sergeant in World War II, serving in the European Theater from 1942-1945.
At age 16, HC was working his first night as an usher at the Garden Theater on Chillicothe Street, when Jenny
Brown walked in. As fate would have it, Herman ushered this brown-eyed beauty to her seat and into the rest of
his life. Virginia Louise Brown of Otway became his wife when they turned 18.
Although he claimed it was love at first sight, Jenny played it a little cooler, and made him court her diligently.
A little behind the scenes reveals she retained every note he wrote on the theater’s program schedule. One of
those love notes reads, “Hello, honey. How’s my little girl? I had almost give up (no grammar checker back
then…) you not coming tonight. Are you coming tomorrow? Stay until shows over if you can. Your pal, HC.
P.S. Why don’t you smile sometimes when I pass? Please do.”
He won her heart and the battle for her attention. They married on October 4, 1941, shortly before he signed up
for duty in the US Army Air Force, and headed overseas to defend the country he loved. Other than letters,
there was no hearing one another’s voice for two-and-a-half years. Jenny wrote weekly and prayed for the man
she would love the rest of her life.
When her war hero returned stateside, husband and bride shared a home with her brother (Charles Brown) and
his wife in Cincinnati. Shortly after, Herman signed on with Norfolk Western as a Laborer at $.61 an hour. He
became a General Forman over the entire Western Division, spending days away from home, overseeing the
cleaning of wrecks throughout the mountains of West Virginia and Ohio. His passion for his brown-eyed girl
produced their son, Charles Edward, five years into marriage. Jenny did much of their son’s upbringing,
walking him to the Roosevelt Elementary School on Coles Blvd., overseeing his voice and piano lessons, and
making sure her family of three attended Boulevard Methodist Church, also on Coles Blvd.
Dad left the railroad physically, but never in his heart, when there was a controversy over firing two of the men
under his supervision. If the railroad didn’t see their value to the company, then he was leaving to show his
loyalty to them. He resigned at age 56 and moved to North Carolina to oversee his son’s developing movie
production company. That sense of fatherhood has been a mainstay for 75 years of Charles’ life; the connection
between father and son is like none other.
Dad lived with us for 14 years. His sense of logic and common sense has proven an awesome guiding force. He
knew how to ask a question that had a black and white answer. The color grey was not a part of this man’s
character. And all who knew him wouldn’t want it any other way. A daily researcher of the world’s condition,
and a patriot’s political perspective that makes no apologies for his dislike of the current White House’s
political strategies. This is not the country he fought to protect and made no bones about his opinion. He had no
desire to ever be known for being politically correct.
Although he and Jenny only gave birth to one son, God provided him another through his farm manager on Mt.
Hope. Roger Thomas, and his wife Belinda, might not be blood, but they have been grafted into the family tree
of Herman Ison.
Despite the local icon he became in the north and the south, he never lost the humble spirit of someone raised,
and the character formed in, we personally believe, a better time in our world.
Herman’s son and daughter, Charles and Jan, want to invite friends and family to celebrate Dad’s life on Friday,
November 10, from 3:00-6:30pm at 124 Herndon Farm Road, Kings Mountain, NC. In honor of Dad’s choice
of culinary cuisine, Moon Pies will be served. BYOS (Bring Your Own Salt).
Funeral Service with Military Honors will be at 12:00 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023, at Beech Fork Church.
1847 State Route 348, Otway, Ohio. Visitation will begin at 11:00 am. Pastor Tom Brown (cousin) will speak,
with other family members singing the hymns Dad grew up with. Inurnment will follow at 3:30 p.m. in Mound Cemetery in
Piketon, Ohio…following a small detour past his beloved horse farm on Mount Hope. Pastor John Gaudy, the
rambunctious boy who grew up on Cypress Street and “allegedly” put rocks in neighbors’ milk cartons, will
preside over the graveside service.
Thank you from a VERY GRATEFUL FAMILY.
Special thanks to Cecil Burton of Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home & Crematory for the personal handholding for
the care of his dear friend and 1980’s next door neighbor. Your sensitivity and compassion to the depth of our
loss has been so tenderly appreciated.