World War II veteran Joseph Pinsky accomplished a lifelong dream last month when he walked to the podium at Kingsborough Community College in a cap and gown to accept his associate’s degree as a proud member of the Class of 2012 — a moment the 85-year-old Sheepshead Bay man had waited 68 years for.
Pinsky, who put aside his college dreams in his late teens to build airfields and living quarters for U.S. soldiers in the Philippines, wasn’t fazed by his new celebrity status as one of the learning institute’s oldest grads on record.
“My wife and daughters were more excited than me!” said the retired postal worker and security guard, who returned to school in his golden years after his wife Rosalind worried that he would be easily bored with extra time on his hands.
“I asked him what he was going to do with himself,” said Rosalind, who wasn’t swayed when he told her that he would keep busy fishing, going to the beach, and visiting museums.
“What about after that?” she replied. “You’re not going to sit in front of the computer all day!”
The couple of 40 years decided that returning to school was the best way for the active and alert senior to enjoy his retirement. But Pinsky’s dream was put on hold once again as the couple battled health problems for the next several years, including multiple cancer operations for Rosalind and gallbladder surgery for Joseph.
Despite the setbacks, the graduate of New York East Vocational High School didn’t abandon his pursuit of a college degree. When he finally enrolled at Kingsborough, he discovered that he was just one of the gang.
“They don’t let you sit on your duff,” he says. “You get your homework, your midterms, your finals just like everybody else.“
Friendly classmates also made his transition from senior to scholar a delight, he added.
“They didn’t look at me like a grandpa, they used my first name,” says Pinsky, who has two daughters and two grandchildren. “I was one of the bunch, we talked, we laughed, and joked around.”
The newly-minted egghead attributes his academic success to his main supporter — his wife Rosalind.
“She’s my mainstay, she’s my motivation,” he said.