Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rest in peace, Grandpa

He would have been 105 on June 28. His final illness was mercifully brief, and his passing was tranquil. Until the end he enjoyed remarkable quality of life for a man of his years, which I believe is directly attributable to his lifelong habit of excellent self-care.

He never smoked, drank to excess, or took drugs, and he had a varied diet rich in vegetables and lean protein. Although he had a sweet tooth and enjoyed a dessert after dinner most evenings, he kept his portions small: a few pieces of candy or a small bowl of ice cream, no more.

As a young man he was a runner and welterweight boxer, and in midlife he became a devotee of calisthenics after an injury to his hamstring made it impossible for him to run without discomfort. His pushups were legendary: every day of his life until he was 80 he did 100 of them, followed by 100 situps.

He had an active intellectual life as well. After retiring from the University of Chicago, where he was a professor of veterinary medicine he remained active in professional organizations and at the age of 99 was honored with the title of President Emeritus of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science, of which he was a founding member. While I disagree philosophically with the use of laboratory animals for experimental purposes I do believe that my grandfather was sincerely concerned with the welfare of the laboratory animals in his care and I honor him for that and much else.

He was a social man who enjoyed parties, receptions and family gatherings. His Jewish faith was important to him, particularly in the latter part of his life.

Good nutrition, regular exercise, active intellectual pursuits, family, friends and faith: if that's not a formula for longevity I don't know what is.