Peter Eric Isakson passed away Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in his adopted hometown of Moscow, having lived most of a life in the Inland Northwest. His 48 years were filled with family, fun, laughter, sports and a passion for helping others.
Pete was born Oct. 27, 1971, in Richland, to Gretchen and Dave Isakson, and is survived by his mother; wife Kelly; children Cody, Connor and Kendall; sister Kristin VanSant and brother-in-law Chris VanSant; nephews Jake and Tyler VanSant; in-laws Mike and Barb Mahoney, Molly Mahoney, Mickey and Mary Mahoney, and Duffy and Leah Mahoney; and nieces Bailey, Piper and Millie Mahoney. He was preceded in death by his father.
Pete was the senior development director for the University of Idaho Foundation at the time of his death, but before that served as the interim athletic director at UI and worked in development at the College of Engineering and in athletics at Washington State University.
A 1990 graduate of Richland High School, Pete was a three-sport athlete for the Bombers and was always a larger-than-life figure, competing his entire senior year in football, basketball and baseball while sporting a mohawk and serving as a devout snow-removal specialist for the Richland Lutheran Church.
Pete’s colorful, gregarious style would always be a calling card. He completed his undergraduate degree at Eastern Washington University, where he met his future wife, the former Kelly Mahoney. They met while both worked for Lakeland Village, a habilitation community for adults with developmental disabilities. Though he doubted his ability to work in the field at first, he eventually gained confidence and the work would be a continuing passion for the Isaksons long after they left their Lakeland Village positions.
Pete began his athletics administration career at the University of Idaho as a marketing assistant and eventually moved on to Ashland University in Ohio and Northern Iowa University, where Kelly would join him. They married July 17, 1999.
Pete began coaching youth sports on the Palouse long before his children were born, but once Cody, Connor and Kendall were old enough to participate, Pete became a fixture at Moscow youth sports events, first at the Parks and Recreation level before he started a local AAU basketball program that gave dozens of youth athletes opportunities to compete across the Northwest. He gave endlessly of his time to children and coaches well beyond his household. If you’ve ever seen a Moscow kid wearing a black-and-red Sharks shirt, jersey, hoodie or beanie, you saw one of the countless youngsters mentored by Pete.
Pete was always among the most colorful characters in any gym or field, often packing a 44-ounce Diet Mountain Dew at any time of the day — 7 in the morning or 11 at night, didn’t matter. He was a great storyteller in hotel lobbies during travel tournaments, full of energy and committed to enjoying the experience, no matter what. He once coached teams to championship games that were happening at the same time in the same gym, separated by a curtain. Pete coached both older son Cody’s and youngest son Connor’s teams in those games ... and both teams lost, but the memory is pure Pete.
Baseball was his favorite sport and one of his last coaching assignments was the Moscow Thunder Cal Ripken baseball team, where daughter Kendall was the only girl in the entire league. He also coached her in basketball and was an avid fan of her gymnastics.
Though all of his children and so many of those he coached have excelled in sports, Pete never lost sight of those whose disabilities meant they would not have the same opportunities. Annually, Pete and Kelly would host the Sharks Basketball Camp for special needs athletes: “This is my favorite day of the year,” Pete would say, without fail.
Pete returned to the University of Idaho after some time at Washington State University, serving as senior associate AD and then eventually interim AD. He was a tireless advocate for university student experience and always connected with college students wherever he went.
Pete was a devoted son and husband, and spoke often about how he “married up,” but his first joy was being a dad. He loved being a dad and connecting with people. He filled every room with laughter and an ever-present smile that was undeniable.
A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday at the Moscow Church of the Nazarene. A “post-game” gathering will immediately follow at the Latah County Fairgrounds and Events Center. Those who wish to honor Pete’s memory should do so by wearing the gear of his favorite teams: the Moscow Sharks, Idaho Vandals or Moscow Bears.
The family suggests that memorials be made to the Dave Isakson Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 1036 W. A St., Moscow, ID 83843, to ensure as many of our community’s children as possible have the opportunity to attend a Lutherhaven Camp, or to the Moscow Bear Boosters to continue their support of Moscow High School Athletics.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel of Moscow and condolences may be left and flowers ordered at www.shortsfuneralchapel.com.