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Oldest U.S. Classroom Teacher

698 words
7 May 1999
ABC News: Good Morning America
(c) Copyright Federal Document Clearing House. All Rights Reserved.


Law professor Abe Goldstein can testify to that. At 100 years old, he's considered the oldest person teaching in a classroom in America. His story enters our GMA Time Capsule today. And as Steve Aveson discovered, his secrets include a sense of humor and devotion to calling.

ABE GOLDSTEIN, 100 Years Old: The breach must be a material one.

STEVE AVESON: What do you love about teaching?

ABE GOLDSTEIN: I'm among youngsters, and it makes me feel young. And also I know I'm doing some good.

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) Abe Goldstein began teaching law at Baruch College 70 years ago. It was the beginning of the Great Depression in New York City, and the dean of the school invited him to teach just one class.

ABE GOLDSTEIN: But he said, "I want you to know it's only a temporary job." That was in 1930. It's still temporary.

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) Job security hasn't been a problem for this 100-year-old. Every semester since the Hoover administration, the school has had him back. He's made the trip downtown two or three times each week to teach contract law.

(on camera) You must really love the law.

ABE GOLDSTEIN: I do, I do. Except I can't marry it.

STEVE AVESON: How come you never got married?

ABE GOLDSTEIN: My family needed my help, financial help. And if I got married, I wouldn't be able to help So I didn't permit myself to get involved.

ABE'S NIECE: How old were you here?

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) His nieces and nephews are witness to his lifelong sacrifice, and they above all appreciate the fact that over the years, his students have become the family he never had.

ABE GOLDSTEIN: You can't create the impossibility and take it as a defense.

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) And he's always available to them as a tutor, but aid can be tough.

ABE GOLDSTEIN: Do your work. I keep telling them nothing worthwhile comes easy. You've got to work at it. And you'll find that it pays off. Because B has certain contacts with...

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) Abe has a passion for the law that keeps him young, and he stays up to date by summarizing the latest decisions of the New York Supreme Court, something that department head Elio Axelrod finds amazing.

ELIOT AXELROD, Baruch College: And he digests the cases for us... STEVE AVESON: This is his handwriting.

ELIOT AXELROD: This is his handwriting. And what's absolutely ironic is that Abe is indeed, by doing this, keeping us current on the law.

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) Last fall, Abe celebrated his 100th birthday. To show their appreciation, Baruch College established a scholarship in his name, and that is a legacy that makes Abe proud.

ABE GOLDSTEIN: People lose their business, they lose their jobs, but once you have it up here, you have an education, it's yours, and nobody can take it away from you.

STEVE AVESON: (voice-over) For Good Morning America in New York City, I'm Steve Aveson.

DIANE SAWYER: And we thank the National Centenarian Awareness Project, which helped us find our centenarians this week.

When we return, the new member of the Good Morning America team, possibly the cutest member, don't you think?

Oh, yes, I think so. Oh, thank you, thank you, that's adorable.

Why the nose? Why the nose?

(Commercial Break)


Content and programming copyright (c) 1999 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. under license from American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to ABC News. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. For further information please contact: ABC News's Office of Rights, Clearances and Permission Practices.(212)456-4059

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