Paul Y. Isbell was raised in Obion County, TN, and graduated from West Tennessee State
Normal School. Upon graduation, Mr. Isbell attended the University of Tennessee where he studied
Chemical Engineering. He entered military service in 1917 and was stationed in France until April, 1919. He returned and received his BS degree at West Tennessee State Teachers College in
1926. Mr. Isbell supervised construction of Levi School in 1928, and later set up the shop
at Whitehaven High School. He became the Director of Building and Maintenance for the County and was involved
with building of Collier School, the Bartlett Auditorium, Gragg School, the shop buildings,
home economics department and greenhouse at Whitehaven, Douglas School, Barrett's
Chapel School and other smaller schools throughout the County. His high school shop class constructed a great deal of the furniture needed for these
projects. Shop classes that were under his direction also built the first school buses that
were used by the School System. The first, made in 1930 were wooden bodied, with later versions, in 1940, made of
steel in the metals shop.
He spent over 24 years working as a technical educator, including serving as the Local
Director of Trade and Industrial Education for Shelby County from 1930 until 1948. He was also director of the School of Aeronautics from its founding in 1940 until
its closure in 1948. Over fourteen thousand were trained as aircraft mechanics, aircraft engine mechanics,
and aircraft inspectors.
In 1948, Mr. Isbell resigned his post as an educator, joining International Harvester
as a researcher. Mr. Isbell founded Southern Fabricators in 1956, which by the late 1990's had grown
to over 500 employees with sales approaching $100 Million dollars per year. Paul Y. Isbell's contributions to education and industry are exemplary and legendary. These scholarships serve to honor a man that made a difference to education and industry
in Memphis and the Mid-South.