Getting What We Deserve


Grad Proves Learning a Lifelong Process

As pressure grows to ease the financial burden on social security, pressure will also grow to eliminate the elderly and infirm
to "free up" more money for the "fit" and those who contribute more than they take from society.

- Cal Thomas

Jeannette Sleever of Morris Plains after earning her bachelor's degree with honours
from Fairtelgh Dickinson UnIversity Wednesday, culminating 30 years of classes.

by Bev McCarron

As family and friends waited for the Fairleigh Dickinson University commencement ceremony to begin last week at Continental Airlines Arena, the videotaped faces of graduating students flashed on giant screens thanking loved ones for their support.  When the face of Jeannette Sleever of Morris Plains appeared, even those who didn't know her burst into applause.  "I'm 95 years old," the graduate said proudly.  "You're never too old to learn."

With wisps of reddish hair peeking out from under her mortarboard, Sleever stepped on stage to collect her degree - cum laude - along with 2,100 other graduates at the commencement held Wednesday morning.

Graduates of both Fairleigh Dickinson campuses - Teaneck-Hackensack and Florham-Madison - took part in a shared ceremony for the first time in six years.  College officials said it was a move to unite students in the two locations, and, in order to fit everyone in, the three-hour ceremony was held at the arena.

Leading the way into the arena were several dozen students from abroad, carrying colourful flags representing their home countries.  Students brimming with elation marched in next, many of them calling their families on cell phones to tell them when they would be next in the 40-minute procession.  In an FDU tradition, bagpipes wailed as the guest speakers brought up the rear.  The family of Michael Ravelo of Paramus - including his mother, stepfather, daughter, sister, aunt and uncle, along with friends - videotaped every part of the ceremony, calling the criminal justice major by cell phone to ask him to turn in his seat and wave.  "We're a very close family, so when any of our family members reach a moment of success, we all join in for the celebration," said Annando Radelat, his uncle.

The ceremony included speeches by two students who won leadership awards; remarks from an honorary degree recipient, diet doctor, Robert C Atkins; and comments by William Willoughby, a former pro basketball player who skipped college, then went to FDU 20 years later after falling on hard times.  A second honorary degree recipient, Korean businessman Kun Soo Lee, was applauded when he limited his remarks to "thank you."  Jessica Ann Weber and Charnette Hockaday were selected to receive the Student Pinnacle Award given to an outstanding student from each campus.

For Sleever, the degree was the culmination of 30 years of classes taken through the university's Educational Program for Older Persons, which offers courses at a lower fee.  Sleever started college after retiring as a bookkeeper, and continued taking classes purely for love of learning.  Only when the university told her she had nearly enough credits to earn a diploma this year did she decide to complete a degree in general studies.  Degree in hand, she doesn't plan to stop learning.  "I guess I'll just go ahead and take more classes," she said.

Source: The Sunday Star-Ledger 27 May 2001 photo credit Robert Sciarrino

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Requests
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006 13:02:38 -0500

Name: Jacqueline Kroschell
Phone: 973-729-5524
Comments: I was looking for mention of the mayor proclaiming Jeannette Sleever Day for her 100th Birthday on Jan 11, 2006.  Alshough this was unpdated jan 13 2006, there in so mention of that!  Steve DePass, "America's Singing Poet" and I were at the dinner in her honor that evening in spite of life=threatening weather and so we know of this honor she received in addition to masny congratualtory letters and messages from noted personages.  Please add to your notes.  Thanks.


It only took me two months...


Old Dogs Can Learn


Will Power

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years.  He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.  The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, "Your hearing is perfect.  Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."

To this the gentleman said, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet.  I just sit around and listen to the conversations.  I've changed my will three times!"

Gardener Still Going Strong at 103

A 103-year-old Dorset gardener reckons he is Britain's oldest worker.  Jim Webber started working on the land aged 12 and has clocked up 91 years since, reports The Sun.  And in all that time the great-grandad has never had a holiday.  Widower Jim turns out in all weathers to tend a half-acre garden at his local New Inn pub in Stoke Abbott.  Jim, who still has a full driving licence, arrives on his Ferguson tractor carrying all his tools - including a chainsaw.  He refuses to charge more than £3 an hour and, when asked when he's going to retire he jokes: "When I get old."

Jim, who ran a farm until 1975, said: "I tried stopping work but I was bored and miserable.  If I feel tired a drop of whisky soon puts me right."  Mary Ward, 47, who runs the New Inn with husband Richard, said: "Jim's amazing.  He's always mowing, digging up tree roots or pruning and tidying."

Jim's daughter Kathy, 68, said: "Father has barely stayed in bed past 4am for 100 years.  He just loves his work and can't sit still for a minute."

Source: 18 September 2006

America's Oldest Worker Retires at 104

A man believed to be the US' oldest worker has retired at the age of 104.  Science professor Ray Crist has stepped down from his teaching position at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.  He began teaching there in 1970 after reaching Dickinson University's mandatory retirement age of 70.

In 1926 he received his doctorate in chemistry from Columbia University, and in the early 1940s worked on the project that separated isotopes of uranium for use in an atomic bomb.  He was a director of the project in 1945 and counted Albert Einstein among his personal friends, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Professor Crist took just a token salary of $1-a-year from Messiah College.

Two years ago, Professor Crist was named America's oldest worker by a nonprofit training group called Experience Works.  The 104-year-old says although he's left his job he'll stay on with his scientific research.  He's currently working on a paper that sets out to explain how plants absorb toxic metals, thereby cleaning the soil.  It's called bioremediation, and Crist is considered to be one of the field's founding researchers.

Source: Thursday 15 April 2004

Vandalised Monument Costly to Fix

Blumhardt at the damaged Byrd Memorial on Mt Victoria

Repairs to a vandalised monument at one of Wellington's most popular focal points will cost the city council $20,000.  It is the second time the Byrd Monument at the Mt Victoria lookout has been vandalised and its designer, ceramicist Doreen Blumhardt, says it is the last time she will repair it.

Blumhardt redesigned the original 1962 monument that honours arctic explorer Rear Admiral Richard Byrd in 1993.  It consists of 2,200 ceramic tiles depicting the Aurora Australis, or southern lights.  At least 400 of the tiles, damaged by skateboarders during the past year, will have to be replaced.

"When you get in to your 80s you do not want to start working on something you did 10 years ago," she said.

The council recently put up a fence, at a cost of $14,000, to protect the monument against skateboarders, but the problem was wider than a few rogue riders, Blumhardt said.  "Children need to be better educated to understand public works of art to better appreciate them."  Blumhardt said the repair job, which would be completed by June, was a lot more difficult than when she designed the whole work because the colours had to be blended in with the rest of the tiles.

Environment and recreation committee chairman councillor Andy Foster said people needed to understand that public monuments and works of art belonged to everybody, not nobody.  "If people see them as having value to everybody then hopefully they might respect them a bit more."

Source: The Dominion Friday 26 January 2001 photo credit Martin Hunter

Distinguished Companion

Wellington potter Doreen Blumhardt, 88, who has become the driving force behind extensions to Lower Hutt's Dowse Art Museum, offering to donate her $1.5 million art collection, has been named a distinguished companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year's Honours list.  (This honour was formerly second-tier knighthoods and damehoods.)  There were no appointments to the top honours - the member of the Order of New Zealand or principal companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

A spokesman for the honours secretariat said people were nominated for honours and when the list was compiled awards were sorted according to merit.  Dr Blumhardt said she was first and foremost an art educator and did not begin potting in earnest till her retirement in 1972.  Her work is in many New Zealand and overseas galleries and institutions.  The pioneer in art education was head of art at Wellington College of Education from 1951 till 1972.

Source: Stuff 31 December 2002

But Some People Never Learn...

Why you shouldn't sunbathe...

For articles related to ageing, including feats that can be accomplished, and a non-spiritual look at what happens after death - funerals, jerky, popsicles, fertiliser, ashes, orbit or dust - clicking the "Up" button below takes you to the Index page for this Older and Under section.

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