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96 Year-Old Irving Fuchs And 88 Year-Old Freddie Digiacomo Lead The Gurwin Class Of Graduates

Thirty-Five Men and Women, ages 66 to 96, collect diplomas after an 
academic year of courses

Class Valedictorian and US Army/Air Force veteran Irving Fuchs Commack, NY (June 15, 2017) - With “Pomp and Circumstance” playing, 35 residents of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, wearing mortarboards and gowns, received their diplomas at the 29th Annual Gurwin Adult Education Graduation Ceremony.  The event was held at the Gurwin Center, a 460-bed skilled nursing facility, located at 68 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY. 

Class Valedictorian and US Army/Air Force veteran Irving Fuchs (left) and Salutatorian and US Navy veteran Freddie Digiacomo (right) deliver their respective addresses at the 29th Annual Gurwin Jewish Adult Education Graduation. Courtesy Gurwin Jewish.

Mr. Fuchs, 96, formerly of Queens, graduated from high school in 1937, but did not continue on to college due to family obligations.  Instead, he took a job to help his parents, working in a millinery for 30 cents per hour.  In 1942 Irving enlisted in the Army/Air Force, and flew 75 combat missions during World War II; he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the nation’s second highest award for military valor, for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”  Irving retired from a 40-year career with the US Postal Service and has lived at Gurwin since 2012. 

Salutatorian and US Navy veteran Freddie Digiacomo (right)Mr. Digiacomo, 88, formerly of Bayport, dropped out of high school to help his family’s bakery business when his two brothers left to fight in World War II. Freddie later joined the Navy, and never had a chance to complete his formal education.  Now a resident at Gurwin, Freddie eagerly attends the Center’s Adult Education classes, which he says gave him the ability to keep his mind sharp and make new friends. 

As part of the program, students completed one course per month from September to April, including “The History of New York,” “Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World,” and “Extreme Weather,” as well as programs in art and culture.   Courses were taught by Center staff.  Each September residents vote, choosing the curriculum from a list of topics; staff members research the topics in order to plan the coursework. 

According to Herbert H. Friedman, CEO of Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, “Tonight’s commencement ceremony is a testament to the will and determination of a generation that values hard work, sacrifice… and education.  Their perseverance and commitment serves as a sign to us all that learning is a lifelong journey, that personal and intellectual growth is achievable into the golden years. We are proud of the accomplishments of our remarkable residents.”

On hand to congratulate the graduates were Huntington Town Councilwomen Susan A. Berland and Tracey A. Edwards, and representatives from Senator John Flanagan’s and Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci’s offices, who presented the graduates with certificates.    The ceremony closed with a “graduates’ cheer,” including the tossing of caps in celebration of their achievement.