October 09, 2023 4 min read
On the left, Dudley with his daughter, Jennifer. Top right, Patricia Gearhart, Jennifer, and Dudley. Middle picture is Dudley with his friend, Mike Gearhart. Bottom right, Dudley's fans.
*pictures at the end of this story.
By Ray Glier
Dudley Dinshaw, 98, considers growing older a privilege and he is not going to waste a breath being some sort of muckworm about what he can no longer do. Listen to Dudley tell about his love of roses and the joy of finishing a 5k and you hear the gratitude of what he can do.
And I’m wondering, more and more, if Dinshaw doing 5ks at low tide on the beach while in his 90s is because of genes, or because of a healthy dose of good attitude.
“I don’t know that I have a corner on answering a question like that,” Dudley said when Geezer Jock asked about his longevity. “It has just happened.
"Longevity, maybe it is passed on. My father lived to be almost 102. I have two sisters in their 90s. My wife, Muriel, is three weeks older than I am.”
Yes, we are back again asking that question: Nature or Nurture?
I can’t leave it alone because I think nurture doesn’t get the credit it should. I don’t think longevity just happens. I think longevity is fed whatever Dudley is feeding it. Scientists feel the same way.
This article published in Long Youthspanconsiders our good habits as a fertilizer for growing older healthier. Well, that's obvious, right? But look at the results in this study. They are startling and not as casual a connection as you think.
What's more, mental health surely plays a part in longevity, along with smoking, drug use, and lack of exercise. The inflammation of a body under stress because of anxiety is real.
Dudley is proof. “I’m thankful that what’s upstairs in my head is working ok," he said.
Indeed, I have yet to meet a person in their 90s while doing Geezer Jock who doesn’t have an aura of poise because of what’s upstairs. They have personalities that are not easily ruffled and stamina against the bad luck that finds them.
The question I have is: Can the cycle in a gene pool be disrupted over time and you find that sweet spot even though your parents couldn't?
It is my homework the next few weeks.
Dinshaw, who is long retired from IBM in California, pushed through what is considered an age barrier on his 3.1-mile jaunt three weeks ago. Again, he is 98.
Dudley first did a 5K on Moonlight Beach in 2019 and then Covid came along and disrupted his plans to make it an annual event. In that race four years ago, when he was 94, his daughter, Jennifer, ran ahead of Dinshaw confident he could manage on his own.
A month ago, his daughter and a friend, Mike Gearhart and Mike's wife Patricia, walked/ran with Dinshaw as a precaution.
Dudley was just fine. He had trained by walking regularly and he was not going to fall out of the race.
“During the race itself it is very important to finish so you don’t want to over-exert yourself at my age,” Dinshaw said. “I did consult my doctor a few days before and he was a little leery about it. He said ‘don’t let people pressure you into doing more than you can do’.”
Dudley said he was aware there were so many eyes on him because of his age and people were rooting for him to finish.
“That was ok,” he said of the pressure.
Then he said with a chuckle, “It was important to finish and still be alive at the end.”
Dinshaw has carried around this observance of being steady for years. He lived in the San Jose area for 50 years and his work for IBM as a programmer put him nose-to-nose with innovative upstarts, like Apple. But Dudley always could reach inside for that bromide "Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” when the pressure of Silicon Valley came at him. It wasn't exactly small stuff, but he never made it bigger than it had to be.
“There was a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure,” Dinshaw said.
The IBM programmers had this intellectual courage to keep the wheels on as Apple, among others, dueled for market share.
Dudley, who studied at the University of California-Berkeley, was part of the foundation at IBM when he joined the company in 1956. There was no such thing as a Computer Science major, and he lasted 33 years until he retired at 65.
“I wasn’t CEO of the company,” Dinshaw said, “but I was satisfied with what I accomplished.”
It is fitting that Dudley has a degree from UC-Berkeley because the school has the Greater Good Science Center, which produced a terrific white paper on gratitude. It is worth reading, please, to see how this base instinct evolved in us.
Dudley is grateful for Muriel and his roses. He calls them his “beauties”. There are 40 on his property in Encinitas, north of San Diego. Dinshaw doesn’t grow roses, he “raises” them.
Meanwhile, Dudley cultivates his mental and physical health by walking and walking. This link from Long Youthspan is more evidence that walking, the simplest of physical activity, yields results.
Dudley Dinshaw can't tell you if his persistent walking is why he is exercising at 98, or if his longevity is merely genes carrying him. He can tell you he is grateful for every step.
(Check out www.longyouthspan.com for up-to-date research and analysis by scientists studying how we age).
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