Kurt Kreckel may have graduated from RIT more than 40 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped him from coming back to learn a thing or two.
For nearly five years, Kreckel ’73 (business administration) has been a member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, an organization that helps stimulate minds and forge friendships among people ages 50 and older who live in Greater Rochester. Almost five days a week, Kreckel can be found with friends at Osher taking classes on anything from understanding the human brain to a study of Bollywood movies.
For Kreckel, life has always been about listening and learning something new. “Osher is really something that had to happen for me,” said Kreckel. “I enjoy it so much.”
Born in Germany in the late 1920s, Kreckel grew up in the midst of World War II. At the age of 10, he was learning to fly glider aircrafts and by 17 he was involved in the war. After being captured by Americans, he grew friendly with many of the soldiers and became enamored with the English language and American people. When the war ended, he pursued his passion in electronics and motors and studied electrical engineering at the University of Hannover. By 1957, Kreckel made his way by boat to the U.S.
“Within the first week I was finding odd-end jobs in electrical engineering,” said Kreckel. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘This really is the American dream.’”
Later, he was drawn to a job in research and development at Bausch + Lomb in Rochester—a company founded by German immigrants. He spent more than 40 years as head of Electronic Systems and Military Contracts and was in charge of everything electronic at the company, from spinning machines for the SofLens division to a device for converting 3D stereoscopic film.
It was at Bausch + Lomb that his boss told Kreckel he was working too hard.
“He told me to go to RIT and learn to delegate, so I wasn’t doing everything myself,” said Kreckel. “I really enjoyed those classes and learned a lot.”
After getting his MBA, Kreckel served as an adjunct assistant professor of management at St. John Fisher College for 10 years. Also in his spare time, he worked with his wife as a medic and ambulance driver with the Perinton Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Since retiring as an ambulance driver at the age of 84, Kreckel fills his time with skiing at Bristol Mountain—where he logged 25 days of downhill skiing last winter—and classes at Osher. “I walk into Osher and everybody is friendly and the people are just fascinating,” Kreckel said. “In recent classes we’ve learned about current events in the country of Greece and have had marvelous discussions about science vs. God.”
As Kreckel says, he is approaching his 90th year of life and he still enjoys learning something new every day.
For more on Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, go to www.rit.edu/osher.