Senior Lifestyles

Centenarian and Olympian still studies the classics

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Michael Tow/Special to the Town Crier
“Challenge yourself with classes to maintain mental acuity and sharpness,” centenarian Dr. Paul Makler advised.

For BridgePoint at Los Altos resident and centenarian Dr. Paul Makler Sr., healing the body and nurturing the mind have been the guiding principles of his life. Along the way, he found time to represent the United States in the 1952 Olympics in fencing.

He recalls that his interest in the sport was sparked by his college roommate, who was a fencer. He began taking fencing lessons as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary and continued while he attended medical school.

“During the war, I was studying medicine and was deferred from service,” Makler said. “Once I graduated, I joined the Army in February 1946. By then, the war had ended and I was stationed at hospitals in the United States.”

After practicing as a physician for decades, Makler’s passion for art took over. He began work as an art curator at the University of Pennsylvania and discovered two paintings by Edouard Manet.

“One picture was found in a warehouse and another in a corridor at U Penn,” he said.

At the same time, Makler and his wife co-owned an art gallery in Philadelphia and worked with art dealers in New York.

“We were acquainted with famous artists and sculptors, including Alexander Calder, David Smith and Louise Nevelson,” Makler said.

While curator, the classics bug bit Makler and he took coursework in the field. Later, the desire to impart knowledge to young minds took hold; he taught Greek and some Latin at a Quaker school on the outskirts of Philadelphia for approximately 15 years. His wife continued running the art gallery.

Then came a time that occurs in many people’s lives: His children and grandchildren built their own lives far away.

“At the time we moved to California, I was 90,” he said. “Currently, there are four generations of us on the West Coast. We celebrated my 100th birthday recently and everyone came, including my great-grandchildren.”

Through Stanford’s Continuing Education program, he takes classes in history, philosophy and comparative religion.

“Challenge yourself with classes to maintain mental acuity and sharpness,” Makler advised.

At BridgePoint during the lockdown, he focuses on reading, playing the piano and conversing with his son by telephone.

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