As any college graduate knows, attending four to five straight years of classes is no easy feat. Now, imagine doing that for a quarter century. That’s what Lewis Taub, a 93-year-old retired Saratoga optometrist, has been doing since 1994 at Skidmore College.
Taub has been auditing a course every spring and fall semester for 25 years—the equivalent of 150 credits. Just a few weeks ago, Taub completed his 50th college elective at Skidmore called Theater and Culture, and his professor, Eunice Ferreira, threw him a mini, in-class celebration complete with cake and a gift bag, compliments of the Skidmore Shop. President Philip Glotzbach even stopped by the classroom to congratulate Taub on what the 93-year-old retiree has called a “full liberal arts education,” including many courses in history, art history and religious studies. “I’m dealing with young people, and it makes me feel young,” says Taub about what keeps him going to class year after year. “Also, Skidmore has a battery of really, really good professors.”
Taub grew up in Brooklyn, where he met his future wife, Marion, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. In 1952, the recently wedded couple relocated to Saratoga Springs, and for the next four decades, Lewis ran an optometry practice in town while Marion worked at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, first in the children’s room, then later in the reference department. After retirement, Taub says it was his wife who inspired him to deepen his education even further. “Marion was very brilliant, and she had a much better liberal arts education than I did,” says Taub. “So I decided that I had to do something about it.”
Although he’d already earned degrees from Brooklyn College and Columbia University, Taub began auditing classes at Skidmore—and his wife decided to join him, sometimes even taking the same courses. Before long, the couple’s experiences in the classroom had translated into vacations to some of the far-flung and exotic destinations they’d studied. “My wife took a lot of courses in Asian art, [and] because of that we went to India, China and Japan,” says Taub. The two continued studying and traveling together until Marion developed dementia. In May 2016, shortly before Marion’s passing, Skidmore’s registrar gave the Taubs honorary diplomas in recognition of their dedication to their continuing education. At the time, both had audited more than 40 courses.
Despite the loss of his wife, Taub continued taking classes at Skidmore. This year, he finished his 50th course a little early so he could have his own celebration: A two-week transatlantic cruise that departed from Florida and stopped in Spain, Portugal, Belgium and England.
If you were wondering, Taub’s not planning on “graduating” anytime soon. He’s already signed up for his 51st class at Skidmore this fall: A religious studies course called Prophets in the Bible. “I can’t wait,” Taub says. “As long as I can do it, I’m going to keep doing it.”