geriatric blogger: ‘Keep your curiosity’
If you think bloggers don’t use walkers or tell stories about a WWII pilot, then you haven’t met geriatric blogger Keith Burk.
Age has a way of fooling us. So when you meet Keith Burk, 85, a retired GE engineer and widower who wears a hearing aid and uses a walker, you don’t expect him to know what a blog is — let alone write one.
Nor do you expect him to have a Web site, read high-brow books like Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” in less than a week or take casses in immigration and renewable energy.
But you’d be wrong. Because Burk does all those things and more.
He writes a Web log — a blog — called “Ancient Fool,” making him perhaps the oldest blogger nationally.
Burk’s age beats out a 73-year-old man in British Columbia who writes the “Oldest Living Blogger” and an 80-year-old Boston-area woman who writes “My Mom’s Blog.” Geriatric bloggers are hardly the norm. Only 3 percent of online U.S. seniors have created blogs, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
When not blogging, running on his treadmill or shooting off e-mails to book authors and politicos, Burk keeps his mind sharp — in hopes that his body will follow — by taking classes at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Armstrong Atlantic State University. The classes, dubbed the “Health Club for the Brain,” are for learners 50 and older.
Burk might be the oldest, but he is hardly the dullest. “He’s got to be the best ‘senior senior’ in terms of understanding what’s going on today,” said Don Gardner, a retired chemical engineer who helped bring the institute to Savannah and has led some classes. With daughter and chauffeur Debi Scott by his side, Burk has a lot to say during the 90-minute classes. “He has his opinions fortified with facts and understanding,” Gardner said.
Burk also attempts Sudoku, sits in on New Age classes at church, turns off the television except for news, and he is reading three books. What do you expect from a blogger so brainy that he lists biology as a hobby?
Burk is a Rush Limbaugh-listening, Bush-loving conservative. Try not to hold that against him. Liberal-leaning Louie Nordbye doesn’t. Nordbye, 68, is a reader of Burk’s blog and his friend. The men became friends because both were pilots. Nordbye served in Vietnam, Burk in World War II.
They enjoy arguing their opposing views. “He’s smart, but liberal,” Burk jokes.
Nordbye counters: “We talk, but not for very long, because he calls me a communist and a tax dodger.”
Burk’s latest rants are against Al Gore. Burk believes global warming is over-hyped. He didn’t catch Gore on the Oscars. He was busy researching clean, renewable energy on the Web. Or reading ahead for next week’s class.
The Wyoming native has survived a stroke. Last year he lost his wife of 60 years, Savannah native Anne Yarbrough. The two had moved back to Savannah after raising two children in New York.
How does the city’s oldest blogger and student stay sharp? “Keep your curiosity,” he advised. “Never stop learning.”
Read more on Burk’s blog at ancientfool.mindsay.com or his Web site, www.Burk.us