ISELI, Victor

ISELI, Victor

(June 26, 1931 - Dec. 16, 2020)

Throughout a lifetime that spanned three continents and nearly nine decades, Victor knew no strangers. Even in his last few years, walking along the tree-lined streets of Oakwood with Louise, his wife of 61 years, he would smile and wave at people, though he might not have remembered their names. A skilled tool and die maker with exacting standards, he was, at heart, a genuine "people person," remembered by many for his quick smile, his hearty hugs, and his teasing manner.

Born in Sawah Lunto, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Victor was one of 16 children. As a young boy, World War II interrupted his schooling. Faced with the necessity to aid in support of his family, he worked in a toothbrush factory and helped fishermen pull nets in exchange for the fish. As a teenager, he worked in construction in New Guinea, where he learned the electrical trade. To save for passage to the Netherlands, where some of his siblings had already immigrated, he raised chickens and sold the eggs. A month-long journey on a freighter through the Suez Canal finally brought him to Amsterdam. At age 24, he was considered too old for trade school, but a kindly factory supervisor saw promise in the ambitious young man and sponsored his night school studies. Working days, he completed a five-year tool and die maker course in only four years.

While in Amsterdam, he met the love of his life, Louise. Over a two-year courtship, some of it long-distance, visiting each other on bicycles, they began a lifetime of adventure, travel, and meeting new friends. They married in 1959, and immediately immigrated to the United States with the promise of work in Ohio. Sponsored by the West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Miami County, the congregation assisted the young couple in setting up a household. Within a few years, they moved to Dayton. Victor worked as a tool maker for Midwest Tool & Engineering and then moved to GM, where he finished the last 25 years of his precision machining career as a proud member of IUE Local 801. In retirement, he would continue to socialize with his shop buddies at the monthly retiree luncheons.

Through the Friendship Force, Victor and Louise would eventually travel to all of the continents (but for Antarctica), staying with host families throughout the globe. As devoted members, they also hosted visitors from all over the world. They lived the Friendship Force motto that "a world of friends is a world of peace," touching many lives and creating lasting friendships throughout the globe.

For many decades, Victor and Louise have been active members of the Holland American Club, faithfully volunteering in the Dutch booth at the annual Dayton World Affair. They enjoyed classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UD and the College for Lifelong Learning at Sinclair, and they developed many close friendships in fitness classes at the Huber Heights Senior Center, where Victor enjoyed playing table tennis with the guys, as well as the Silver Sneakers program at the Huber Heights YMCA.

Most of all, Victor enjoyed his children and grandchildren. Above all else, he put family first, with a dear place in his heart for Alice, his daughter with special needs. To Alice, he was "Papa Daddy." To his grandchildren, he was "Opa." He valued those titles more than anything.

Victor leaves to cherish his memory his sweetheart, Louise; his children, Madeline (Robb Drumheller – Oakwood, OH), Victor (Sarah Goodall – Seattle, WA) and Alice; his grandchildren, Dominic Iseli-Smith (Natalie – Detroit, MI), Lukas and Kaes Drumheller, and Giselle and Gage Iseli; his sisters, Nellie Bosma (Marinus – Dayton, OH) and Poppie deRidder (Tipp City, OH); his brother Martin Iseli (Jetty – The Netherlands); special sister-in-law Martha Vanderley (Maryland); other special in-laws in The Netherlands, Berty Iseli, Hans and Els van Ritbergen, and Ruud and Wikje van Ritbergen; numerous nieces and nephews all over the world; and countless neighbors and friends he considered "family by choice."

Many thanks to the neighbors who befriended them in their Pheasant Hill neighborhood of 35 years, and more recently in the 300 block of Spirea Drive in Oakwood.

Victor will continue to give to the community through the Anatomical Gift Program of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. While no memorial service is planned at this time, contributions honoring Victor may be made to Friendship Force International at or Friendship Force International, ATTN: Finance Department, 279 West Crogan St., Lawrenceville, GA 30046; or to the Dayton International Peace Museum at or Dayton International Peace Museum, 208 W. Monument Ave., Dayton, OH 45402.