CEMA’s School Advisory Board (SAB), chaired by Ed Ryan of Ryan Oil, Hamden, Conn., voted to create a scholarship in memory of former ICPA director Charlie Isenberg for his role in creating the association’s HVAC school in 1978 (now known as ENTECH). “Charlie was there when it all began, and we wanted to help remember him and the industry’s commitment to HVAC excellence by creating this scholarship,” Ryan said.
“This is a great tribute to a man who played an important role in making sure that the association was producing the finest trained technicians in Connecticut,” said Peter Russell of Santa Fuel, and chair of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association Executive Committee.
The Charles S. Isenberg scholarship will be funded by donations from association members. The proceeds will go to students who will be attending ENTECH to obtain their HVACR license.
A tax-deductible charitable contribution to the “Charles S. Isenberg Scholarship Fund” can be made payable to:
ENTECH, 10 Alcap Ridge Cromwell CT 06416
CEMA/ENTECH President Chris Herb said, “The industry owes a debt of gratitude to a man who was entrusted by Connecticut oil dealers to promote and protect their best interests for the better part of five decades, and that is why we have decided to create a scholarship in his memory.”
Isenberg, born in 1931, died on Sept. 12, 2019. CEMA issued the following statement in his memory:
Charlie was synonymous with the petroleum industry for the 50 years he was associated with the Connecticut Petroleum Association (CPA), which became the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association in the 1970s, the predecessor to CEMA. Initially he worked for his brother, Lee Isenberg, who ran an association management company of which CPA was a client. According to Don Craft, Charlie and Dorothy Rhodes were the day-in, day-out staff for the association since at least 1960, while Lee oversaw general operations, and other associations. In 1970, Charlie was named to the top position at ICPA, executive secretary, and ran the association until his retirement in 2000, the same year he was honored with the Oilman of the Year award.
During his tenure, Charlie helped the industry through multiple trials and tribulations, not the least among them wage and price freezes in the 1970s, and two oil embargos. He recounted to CEMA how during a severe supply crisis during one of the embargoes, with cars in long lines at gas stations, he learned of a tanker in New Haven harbor with 10 million gallons of gasoline in its hold. He went to then-Governor Ella Grasso who used her emergency powers to have the tanker unload its fuel into New Haven terminals, thus averting a mounting fuel panic in the public. Among actions he was most proud of accomplishing was the enactment of major divorcement, which led to the jobber class in Connecticut dominating gasoline distribution channels.
He served five governors as senior member and acting chairman of the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board and chair of the State Petroleum Allocation Task Force during the Arab oil embargo (1973). He also served as the Connecticut Chapter representative for the New York City-based Tri-State Metropolitan Energy Council, and was on the board of the New England Fuel Institute. He was a board member of the Greater Hartford Visitors and Convention Bureau and past president. He also was a board member of the New England Air Museum at Bradley Airport. When he retired from ICPA he was a member of the board of New York Society of Association Executives and was a past president.
Charlie was a native of the Boston area and graduated from Boston University and received many post-graduate certificates from universities in New England and New York, including Syracuse and Yale. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was an instructor at the Guided Missile School at Fort Sill, Okla., and also taught Native American youngsters how to repair radios so they could support themselves. He was an avid skier and was a candidate for the alternates for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team (moguls). He served in the ski patrol in New Hampshire. Charlie is survived by his wife of 60 years, Edith, and two sons, James and Kenneth. The family would like to thank the people who helped Charles in his busy career. As Don Craft relates, to anyone who knew Charlie, he was a “man of mystery.” He always played his cards close to his chest, and was a hard person to read. Nevertheless, his love of and loyalty to our industry was undeniable. Among his many legacies, according to Don, was that Charlie was a firm believer in education, which led to the high standard of professionalism characteristic of our industry today. He also fostered a sense of collegiality among normally highly competitive marketers, which helped to unite the industry on vital issues, as opposed to fracturing it, and was a mentor to many members and families. Our industry owes Charlie Isenberg a debt of gratitude for his devotion and single-minded purpose in making our industry in Connecticut as strong as it is today.