94-year-old Bob Blum was all smiles at his college graduation, 70 years after putting a pause on his studies to serve in the military. The air force veteran enrolled in college in 1946 but did not finish to get a degree. He enlisted in the Air National Guard and served in the Air Force. He served until 1953 when he received an honorable discharge.
Being the oldest graduate of Keiser University in Naples, Florida, Blum said that despite his awareness that getting a college degree at his age was unusual, he did not dwell on his age so much. “My family thinks this was the greatest thing since mashed potatoes. But I did not start this for anyone but me,” Blum said about his achievement.
Coping As A Modern Student
Learning today involved a lot of technology and computers, which Blum had to get used to quickly. He credits his knowledge of computer programs like PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and Outlook to his wife, Connie. He says that learning those computer programs was the most challenging part of his undergraduate studies.
“I could have never done this if it weren’t for the fact that my wife helped me with the computer. She’s a computer guru,” he said. “I would have to yell, Connie, very often during the daytime, and she’d have to come in and help me correct the computer.”
Blum considered taking classes online beneficial in the sense that he had instructors from all over the country, like a doctor from Syracuse University and a superior court judge in San Diego. “I think that I had instructors that were as good as anybody who goes to Harvard. These people, they knew what they were doing, and that made it a lot easier on the class,” Blum said.
At the end of the sessions, Blum graduated with a GPA of 3.43 and a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies. The Air Force veteran also endowed a scholarship for the university’s nursing program after a conversation with a nursing student made him realize the shortage of nurses nationwide.
Life Asides School
After his retirement in 1971, Blum began playing in bridge tournaments and moved to the highest rank possible in the game, Diamond Life Master. He credits playing bridge for keeping his brain active over the years. “It’s a very highly skilled game. And you have a partner, which makes it even tougher because if you screw up, your partner is going to give you a look you really don’t want to see,” he said, also pointing out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are active bridge players. “So, I played tournament bridge and traveled all over the country for quite a while.”
Blum advises taking up interests during retirement and exercising through every stage of life. “If you retire, you can’t go out and play golf every day. You’ve got to have something, mentally, that interests you. You want to go to cooking school. That’s great. Something that you really have enjoyed as an avocation early in your life. And that, to me, is the best thing,” he said.
“It does not have to be strenuous. You could walk on the treadmill slowly. You don’t have to run; you’re not trying to set records. All you’re trying to do is to live properly,” he added, speaking of exercising.