Gerald (always known as Gerry) Isaaman was born in Burnt Oak, north London. He was one of the four children of Lily (nee Finklestein) and Asher Isaaman, an upholsterer.
Having edited a youth club magazine after leaving school, at the age of sixteen he joined the Stoke Newington and Hackney Observer as a messenger and trainee reporter. In 1955 he moved to the Hampstead and Highgate Express becoming a sports reporter and working his way up to editor in 1968. Under his editorship the paper flourished, and a number of his staff went on to forge brilliant careers. One of them was Dame Liz Forgan, who was the first woman to become Chair of The Arts Council. She said of Gerry: ‘He knew his patch, posh and poor … He thought global and acted local. And he hired and trained an extraordinary band of future politicians, scholars and national figures in culture and the media’.
Author Hunter Davies, who often contributed to the paper, paid a similar tribute, describing Gerry as ‘Mr Hampstead’ adding: ‘He was in many ways the last of the old editors who saw themselves as part of the fabric of the community; [he] felt he was here to stay, to serve his parish, his readers, the locality’.
Gerry also served on a number of public bodies. He was a member of the Press Complaints Commission, a trustee of the King’s Cross Disaster Fund and a non-executive director of the Whittington Hospital Trust in Highgate. He was awarded an OBE in 1994.
After his retirement, he and his wife Delphine moved to the west country, first to Newent in Gloucestershire and finally to Marlborough in Wiltshire. Although no longer in full time employment, he still worked as a freelance journalist and participated in setting up a community newspaper in Marlborough. He also helped to run the Cheltenham literary festival between 1998 and 2011. He died in 2019.