Fairfield Student Celebrates 100th Birthday

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Fairfield Student Celebrates 100th Birthday

Leon Spivack has been in college for over 40 years. He has three daughters. He has lived in the same house for nearly 70 years. And he’s celebrated 100 birthdays.

All of these numbers add up to a life most people can only dream of.

Spivack has been a member of the Learning for a Lifetime program at Fairfield University for over four decades. His late wife, Sylvia, co-founded the program and since then he has audited classes every semester in subjects ranging from Middle Eastern Politics to Visual Communications.

“Through this program, I have met and acquired more knowledge from many dedicated, highly trained professors,” says Spivack. “Interacting with college students has also been very pleasant and insightful; it makes one feel not as old when surrounded by young people.”

Dr. Mike Serazio has had Spivack in three classes and has created a unique bond with the centenarian. It was in one of his classes on Feb. 5 that Spivack celebrated his 100 th birthday, complete with a visit from University President Father Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., who presented him with a proclamation from Governor Dannel Malloy. Also joining in the festivities were the Bensonians, who serenaded him with a special birthday tribute.

“It’s such a heartwarming joy to see him on the roster and in the classroom each time around,” says Serazio. “At age 100, you’ve pretty much ‘aced’ life and the fact that he keeps returning to campus each semester for new knowledge is a testament to the human spirit of curiosity.”

For a man who doesn’t like surprises, Spivack was quite touched by the celebration.

“The party in Dr. Serazio’s class took me completely by surprise. I am extremely grateful for the many well wishes, including the musical wishes of the Bensonians and the delicious cake!”

One of Spivack’s three daughters, Sue Spivack, echoed her father’s sentiments.

“Fairfield University and its Lifetime Learning Program have been incredibly supportive and welcoming to my father. Elizabeth Hastings, Dr. Michael Serazio, Fr. von Arx, and the Bensonians exceeded my expectations.”

Hastings, director of the Learning for a Lifetime program, has known Leon for years and helped orchestrate the birthday festivities.

“We were absolutely thrilled last week to be able to celebrate his 100th birthday in the class,” she says. “Leon is one of many adult learners who audit classes at Fairfield University each semester and I will say, with some partiality, that he is our most special.”

Asked what piece of advice he would offer on the importance of a continuing education, Spivack says education is the ultimate second chance to catch up on what may have been missed.

“Education is a never-ending process…in fact, one thing I have learned is that one never has enough education.”

Last modified: 02-11-15 02:52 PM

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