‘Goodbye Gerry’: Journalists and jazz standards give ex-Ham&High editor Gerald Isaaman OBE a fitting send-off

Gerry is presented with a clock to mark 25 years as editor. Picture: The Isaaman family

Gerry is presented with a clock to mark 25 years as editor. Picture: The Isaaman family - Credit: Archant

Louis Armstrong standards, a Gilbert and Sullivan ditty and poems from Keats and his great friend poet and publisher Jeremy Robson saw long-time Ham&High editor Gerald ‘Gerry’ Isaaman OBE given an inevitably idiosyncratic send-off.

An upbeat and moving funeral service at Golders Green Crematorium's West Chapel on Friday morning was attended by many of the great and good of Hampstead and Highgate - with more than a smattering of former Ham&High staff in the pews to pay tribute to their old boss.

Gerry, who died in April after a short illness, edited this newspaper for 26 years until 1994.

The non-religious service saw tributes from Matthew Lewin - who succeeded Gerry at the helm of this newspaper - along with Dame Liz Forgan, broadcaster and the former chair of the Scott Trust.

Matthew spoke of Gerry as the "finest newspaper editor I ever came across" and highlighted his hatred of local newspaper clichés.

"'Tell the damn story properly,' he thundered', Matthew said remembering one Isaaman pet peeve..

Meanwhile Liz told the assembled mourners how Gerry had been pleased he had hired her back in 1969 - because the other candidate for the job was later unmasked as a South African spy.

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She went on: "People sometimes assumed that he really dreamed of a job in Fleet Street but nothing could be further from the truth. He believed fiercely in the power and importance of good local journalism so he loved the job he did and made it noble.

"I always thought he was the happiest journalist I ever met."

James Roose-Evans founder of the Hampstead Theatre, also spoke movingly about Gerry's support at the project's inception.

Meanwhile, both in the pews and afterwards - once Nat King Cole had played Gerry out for the last time - at the Old Bull and Bush pub superlatives were thrown around like confetti - everyone owed Gerry a debt of some kind, everyone was so grateful for his support.

Gerry's son Dan wrote a moving anecdote in the order of service - his father had encouraged an interest in computers, as part of a "genius plan" to get a screen to watch football at home.

Gerry is survived by his wife Delphine, Dan and a grandson Max.