College Friend

David Hendler “People need people. One of the worst ills that befall the elderly is loneliness. It kills untold numbers of us.”

If the above named affliction is an illness—as David Hendler maintains—he’s certainly found his “apple a day” cure through Emeritus College over the years. “I’ve been in the program almost since the beginning, and it’s always an excellent experience. Maggie Hall even got me to be the second chairman of the board,” he recalls, “though I certainly didn’t want the recognition. But being in the program allows you to meet kindred souls; people who are anxious to learn what’s going on. I’ve always felt that every class gave me new reason to live.” And David has certainly lived.

“I told the story of my life in one of my classes once, and when I was finished, you could have heard a pin drop.” Some moments: Having his horse shot out from under him by Cossacks in Czarist Russia and being left for dead. Escaping to Istanbul where he starved for seven months. Sailing around the world as a deckhand but only being reunited with his family when, at last, he reached Ellis Island. A life spent scrapping to build his own business. A marriage of 70 years to a woman he honored and loved. But to read David’s whole story, you’ll have to contact his good Emeritus friend, Harry Bloch, who wrote it all down. But one element in any telling of David’s life will be a constant: giving.

“I worked for the school district for 17 years, tutoring kids from kindergarten through college, and those were the happiest days of my life,” he says. But David has also weighed in very generously to help the older generation at Emeritus where he supports four scholarships. “I feel like Emeritus is my alma mater,” he says with a laugh. “I do what I can to help all the generations. Offering what I can to encourage others has always made me feel that I’m somehow leaving my footprints in the sands of time.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.