He’s a lifelong learner: For decades, 90-year-old keeps moving and stays educated

“You got to keep moving, especially when you get old. If you stop moving, well, you’re done,” said Lou Schweickart, who just turned 90 years old this past May.

Moving is definitely something that Schweickart knows how to do. Schweickart has been taking physical activity classes (academic and non-credit) at Sinclair College since 1988 as part of the College for Lifelong Learning. He has taken more than 160 classes throughout the past 36 years.

According to Sinclair’s website, “The College for Lifelong Learning is dedicated to developing a collaborative relationship with adults of the Miami Valley area to promote lifelong learning through educational, cultural, recreational and social opportunities that embrace diversity and service to the community.”

Any student who is 60 and older may audit any credit class tuition-free.

Schweickart is a lifelong Dayton resident who didn’t even leave the country until he joined the Army in 1957 when he served in Iceland. He was married for 30 years and has four kids in the Dayton-Cincinnati area. He worked at Mar•Con Tool Company until his retirement just 12 years ago at age 78.

“My boss was a couple years older and the owner. The story was whoever goes feet first, the other one will follow. That was kind of the inside story, but he kept living, and there were a few things I’d like to do before they take me out feet first,” he said.

The first class that Schweickart took at Sinclair was a swimming class when he was 50 years old. While he has always been an avid bicycler, he never learned to swim, and he wanted to try something a little less strenuous.

“It took me two quarters to learn to swim 50 yards. As you can see, I was never very athletic,” he said.

After the swimming class, he would go to the weight room at Sinclair. He also did spin classes at the Kettering Recreation Complex where he discovered the senior program for volleyball offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I played a couple years in church league. Nothing too serious, so I signed up for one year, and I didn’t play very well there [Kettering] either,” he said.

He eventually learned that Sinclair had a Saturday morning volleyball class, and he decided to sign up for that. He said that while he’s taken over 160 classes, at least 137 of those were volleyball. Schweickart said he likes playing in Kettering because it is with people all his own age. That is not the same at Sinclair, where there are all different ages of students.

“One young guy asked me my age the other week, and I said, ‘I’m 90.’ And he said, ‘Want to know how old I am?’ I said, ‘Do I have a choice?’ He’s 20. I like that because you get together with younger people. That’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Schweickart also enjoys watching his family play sports. He has nieces and nephews at various high schools he will watch play volleyball. Volleyball is definitely Schewickart’s favorite sport even though he doesn’t feel like he’s really gotten any better at the sport. He said he will keep taking the Saturday morning class.

“As long as they let me. As long as I pay my bill, I can pay to play,” he said.

For his 90th birthday, Schweickart celebrated with family during a party at the Hills and Dales MetroPark in Kettering. Eighty people came to the party, and he said there were people there that knew him, but didn’t know he knew both of them. Many of his friends were reconnected.

“I don’t even know 80 people, so how can that be? I got a neighbor there and a guy I play volleyball with there, and they both worked at Lexus Nexus before they retired. Well, nobody complained. Everybody said that it was the greatest party they’d been to in a long time,” he said.

To further celebrate his birthday, Schweickart was going to Michigan to ride his bike for five days. This year is the 10th anniversary of him riding across the country. He has actually ridden across the country twice in 2001 and 2014. The group he is going to meet in Michigan were with him on his 2014 cross-country ride.

“They were from all over. There was a guy from Scotland, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado. We got together and started riding and we just clicked so well, we were just amazed,” he said.

In his free time, he still likes to see his family, kids and grandkids. He has one brother left as well whom he tries to connect with regularly. Schweickart plans to keep playing volleyball but isn’t completely sure what the future holds.

When asked whether there was anything left in his life that he really wanted to do, he said, “Not right now I don’t think. I guess if I get there [100 years old] I have to learn how to be 100,” he said.

More details

“All state colleges and universities offer the over-60 learner the opportunity to attend classes at no cost, but many institutions and organizations support efforts to provide an enhanced continuing education experience for older learners,” according to the State of Ohio’s website.

Area ‘Lifelong Learning’ institutes:

For a list of other colleges with free courses for older adults, visit highered.ohio.gov/students/adult-learners/lifelong-learning.

About the Author