Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Several weeka ago I saw a news story announcing that the legendary, actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Gina Lollobrigida is running for a seat in the Italian Senate. She is 95 years of age. In April she was quoted in the Italian Newspaper Corriere della Sera saying, "Italy is in bad shape, I want to do something good and positive". She speaks of being inspired by Matahma Gandhi for his “way of doing things, for his non-violence." and a friend to Indira Gandhi.She states being “determined to stay creative” and wants to use some of that energy for “important things, especially for my country.”
It got me thinking about what we are doing or planning to do in our own lives as we age? Do we call it quits, think we’re past our prime and past our time? At least, that is what society is telling us.
I recalled some of the stories I’ve come across as I researched books and articles about ageism and society’s ageist attitudes. I’m sharing them here hoping it will get you thinking about the possibilities, your passions, deep seated needs and desires.
Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane, skydiving just as he did in each of the birthdays in each of the previous five-year increments, 80 and 85.
Donzella Washington, at the age of 80, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in social work from Alabama A & M University in December 2019. Her overall GPA was 3.4; however, she achieved a perfect 4.0 in her last semester.
Anne Martindell, after graduating from smith college at the age of 87, was honored by the New Jersey Legislature in June 2002. She is the only graduate from Smith College to have simultaneously received undergraduate and honorary degrees.
Her memoir, Never Too Late, chronicles the course of her studies. She entered her first year at Smith College as a member of the class of 1936 but was forced to drop out a year later because her father didn’t approve of women becoming educated. She pursued a career in politics, serving as a New Jersey state senator, the director of the office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and as the United states Ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa. after raising her family of four children, she reentered Smith college in 1999 at the age of 84 and received her degree in American Studies. When she entered the college she did so as a prestigious Ada Comstock scholar.
Charlie Ball’s enlistment in WWII interrupted his college education just shy of his graduation, but his dream to finish college was never far from his mind. At the age of 89, Charlie Ball was the oldest alumni after graduating from Arkansas tech.
He had been trained as a pilot by what was known as the army air corps. After discharge, he continued taking intermittent classes. But he states that once he became a grandfather, he wanted to set an example for his grandchildren. He was known as a popular man on campus, and his tenacity served as an inspiration to many of the school’s students.
Mary Fasano, at the age of 89, was the oldest person to graduate from Harvard University. Mary met her husband at a sewing factory in Warren, Rhode island. The couple moved to Braintree, Massachusetts, where they added four children to the one child they already had. They owned Fasano's Diner which they later sold to launch a catering business. After retirement, Mary Fasano decided to go back to school. She first enrolled in Braintree High School. She earned her high school diploma in a matter of two years, at the age of 71.
in 1979, Mary enrolled in Harvard’s extension School. Over a period of 14 years, she studied a variety of subjects, including art, Shakespeare, and Italian, among others. She was awarded the prestigious Santo Joseph Aurelio prize for receiving an associate degree from the extension school and exhibiting extraordinary academic achievement and character for those persons over the age of 50 who receive their undergraduate degree.
Bernie Gladwin received his master’s degree in intelligence history at the age of 90 from Buckingham University after beginning his studies at the age of 89 alongside his wife, who was 77. He stated the importance of carrying on learning to broaden horizons as opposed to sitting around with not a lot happening. This was not the first college degree Bernie Gladwin earned as an older adult. Always pursuing subjects that aroused his intellectual interest, he successfully pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the age of 60 and received a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology at the age of 70.
Wallie Taibleson first entered college at the age of 70. By the time he was 90, he had earned a bachelor’s and three master’s degrees, being the oldest graduate in the history of the entire 23-campus California State University system. His last degree was in education. His son, Jim, proudly states that his father is an example that age is not an obstacle toward achieving your goals. Wallie has been quoted as saying, “as long as you’re learning, you’re not old.”
Cliff Dadson worked as an electrical engineer while serving in the Royal air Force during World War ii. After the war, his expertise was recognized and he became an international sought-after speaker.
At the age of 93, he earned a college degree, ultimately becoming the oldest graduate in Britain (besting Bertie Gladwin, the second oldest graduate). He has said that being around students from different cultures, backgrounds, and nations made him feel young at heart.
Allan Stewart received a degree in dentistry in 1936. He returned to school to keep his mind sharp, ultimately receiving his fourth degree in 2012, a master of clinica science, from Southern Cross University in New South Wales.
Twila Boston graduated from Utah state University with a bachelor’s degree in American studies at the age of 98. Her family differed from Anne Martindell in that getting an education was expected in her family. Thus, at the age of 98, she returned to school to complete her degree. She holds the prestigious honor of being the oldest person to graduate from Utah state University.
Nola Ochs, and her granddaughter, both graduated from Fort Hays state University in the same year, 2007. Nola, graduating with a 3.7 grade point average, was 95 at the time. She graduated with a degree in general studies with an emphasis in history before going on to earn her master’s degree at the age of 98.
When Leo Plass was 20 and just a few credits short of completing his degree, he dropped out of college to pursue a career in the well-paying logging industry. At the time, he felt the money was too good to pass up. However, his desire to complete his education always remained important. He went back to school later in life, ultimately receiving his Associate degree from East Oregon University at the age of 99, which set a world record.
If you can dream it, you can believe it, and you can make it happen. The time has not passed you by. Live Life with Purpose and Passion!!!!
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