88-Year-Old Student Concludes 13 Years at Lee
By Merritt Jenkins
Upon completing 34 courses at Lee University, Encore student Richard Brendel, 88, has decided to retire from the academic scene after 13 years.
Brendel started his education at Indiana University in 1951, but was unable to complete his college education due to work and the birth of his first child. After serving four years in the Air Force (1952-56), he worked for Union Carbide (26 years) and the city of Phoenix, Arizona, (12 years) before eventually relocating to Cleveland.
“He is the kind of man that should have gone to college and given his love to the academy and been a college professor of religion or history,” said Dr. Ron Brendel, Richard’s son and a music professor at Lee.
“He also loves Lee. Almost every day he drives through campus just because he loves it and, before COVID, almost daily he and my mom would get coffee and bagels at Einstein’s in the Humanities building.”
After moving to Cleveland, Richard Brendel began teaching Sunday School at North Cleveland Baptist Church. He discovered a desire to learn more about the Bible, motivating him to begin attending Lee later in life.
“Mr. Brendel is such a positive presence in class,” said Dr. Terry Cross, dean of the School of Religion and one of Brendel’s professors. “He asks questions and engages in discussion that liven the material for professors and students alike. His wealth of life experience was something we all respected, and it came through when he spoke in class. I hope that I will be that engaged in my 80s.”
Richard Brendel has lived in Cleveland since 2005. He and his wife Anne recently celebrated 67 years of marriage and have two children and four grandchildren.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took at Lee,” said Brendel. “The professors really knew their material, and I was able to broaden my understanding with each class. Now, when I read the Bible, I pay attention to the small words and meanings and they take me in a new direction.”
Lee University’s Encore Program offers individuals age 60 and over the opportunity to take university courses. Encore is a part of Lee’s commitment of service to the community.
For more information about the Encore Program, visit leeuniversity.edu/encore.
PHOTO 1: Richard Brendel is pictured here with his wife, Anne.
PHOTO 2: The Brendel family is shown here (left to right) Dr. Chery Brendel, Ron Brendel’s wife; Richard; Anne; Anne Marie Brendel, Richard’s granddaughter; and Dr. Ron Brendel.
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