February 28, 2010

USA: At 95, he feels you're never too old to learn something new

. CLEVELAND, Ohio / Sun Messenger / February 27, 2010 By Jeff Piorkowski For example, Lane’s daughter, nicknamed “Pitsy,” has told him he should learn to work a computer. “I’m doing a lot of things my daughter is telling me,” Lane said. “She’s my mentor. She seems to be doing very well doing the things she’s doing.” So, Lane decided to take advice about learning the workings of the computer from the younger set — his daughter, a clinical psychologist living in Oregon, is 69 years old. For his part, Lane is a virtual beginner at learning to use a computer as he approaches, in April, his 95th birthday. Still, he is determined not to be like some other seniors. “A lot of older people are scared by change,” he said. “They think, ‘I made it through life this far without it, why do I need to know that now?” Lane is taking computer lessons from Art Kraus, a retired certified public accountant, and volunteer with the Tri-City Consortium on Aging. For the consortium, Kraus has done many jobs to aid seniors where ever he is needed. At 68, Kraus gets great delight in teaching Lane the workings of the computer. “He was born the same year as my father (the late Robert Kraus),” said Kraus, a resident of Winchester Road in Lyndhurst. “And, my father was an electrician, too.” The electrician work holds significance in that Lane, of Green Road in South Euclid, owned for 25 years, until 1984, an electrical construction business. Lane never graduated from college, although he did attend classes at John Carroll University to learn more about electronics. He initially learned some things about the subject from his years working as a construction estimator. In addition to a daughter, Lane is father to Stanley, 66, a bio-chemist in Nashville. Lane modestly brushed off any suggestion that he could be a very smart man, given that he has two PhD.s as children. Instead, he said, his children’s educational aptitude must come from his late wife, Ruth, who died Oct. 3 after nearly 72 years of marriage. Lane, today, marvels at the intricacy of the needlepoint works of art Ruth left behind, but admitted, “When I look at them, it brings a mist to my eyes. “The hardest part about being a widower is the loneliness,” he said. It is because of that loneliness that his daughter suggested he take up computers to meaningfully occupy his time. “The first thing he needs to do is to get a computer,” Kraus said before explaining to Lane how, if he did make the purchase, lessons could then be practiced on a regular basis at home. Now, the two meet only every two or three weeks in the computer room at Hawken Lower-Middle School, 5000 Clubside Road in Lyndhurst. Still, with such little chance at repetition of what has just been learned, Kraus said of Lane, “He’s a great student.” Kraus then joked, “I never have to discipline him.” Still spry in mind and body, Lane, a 1933 Shaker Heights High School graduate, would like to see other seniors learn how to use a computer, but knows it’s a hard sell. “I’m not an advisor to them,” he said, “but I’m with seniors a lot. I tell them they should do it. They just look at me. I know they’re not going to do it.” Lane, who remembers such things from his just-married days in the 1930s as the cost of a quart of milk (five cents), a newspaper (two cents), and a week’s streetcar pass (75 cents), said learning some new facts could help keep his fellow seniors a little younger. “When I look at other older people,” he said, “people younger than me, they just look too damn old.” When told he walks like a much younger man, Lane replied, “You don’t know the pain I feel.” A former avid chess player — his daughter advised him he should again take up the game now that he is single — Lane said, “I want to learn the computer to communicate, and to play games. I know I won’t learn everything because it’s too intricate for that.” He looks forward to communicating with his two children, and three grandchildren. Lane is especially eager to learn from Kraus how he can exchange photos with his grandchildren via the computer. Lane said he will soon take Kraus’ advice and buy a new computer, to which Kraus said he could then go to Lane’s home to teach him. Because he is actively pursuing his daughter’s advice on computers and chess, Lane was asked if she had given him any more mentor-like advice. Lane thought for a moment, laughed, and said, “Yes, she told me to stay away from women.” [rc] Jeff Piorkowski jpiorkowski@sunnews.com © 2010 Cleveland Live, Inc.