When it comes to enjoying a fabulous life, Bruce Gustin ticks all the boxes.
Born in Yonkers, NY, son of a chemical engineer, it was initially the profession he planned to exercise. He even graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, but concerned about the development of the Cold War, he decided to enlist in the Navy in 1962.
He spent 39 years in active service, including 18 years at sea, before retiring in 2001.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said, adding that he was “under pressure to retire”.
But life had more than sea water for Gustin.
Last month, he completed his trips to all 50 states, checking off South Dakota.
Next year, one of his trips will take him to Greenland, his 141st country, although at 79 he’s not sure he’ll be able to visit all of the 220 or so known countries.
He also sailed below the equator – and literally stepped on it in Ecuador – traversed the Arctic and Antarctic circles, was “underwater for 74 days” while serving on a submarine. the navy and “flew around the world in a private jet”.
Gustin is a licensed pilot and recently enjoyed a trip from Chicago to St. Louis to Kansas City and back to Chicago in a friend’s restored railroad car, which he said included “gourmet meals. from the small kitchen in the car, including mimosas with Sunday breakfast. It was quite a trip. “
A year ago, he took a shorter train trip from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he spent the weekend at the restored La Castañeda Hotel.
Last June, Gustin posted on his Facebook page that he “flew in the cockpit of a Mitchell B-25 bomber… flew combat missions over Italy during WWII. (It was) very hot and uncomfortable – that certainly gives some appreciation to the men who flew it in 1944. ”
But he’s more than an adventurer; he is also an educator in Rio Rancho public schools. He moved to New Mexico after retiring from the Navy, as he had previously been stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base and loved the metro area.
Still active, he is the Advancement Through Individual Determination teacher at Eagle Ridge Middle School and the AVID program coordinator at Rio Rancho Elementary School.
Putting young minds on the right track for a successful life after graduation means a lot to him. For his efforts with AVID, he was featured in “Albuquerque The Magazine” as an Education Hero and honored by Rio Rancho Public Schools as District-wide Volunteer of the Year (2013- 14) and by the New Mexico School Boards Association with the Award of Excellence for Student Achievement (2015).
What makes this septuagenarian irresistible to young college teens?
“I listen to them, I think that’s what they like,” he believes.
He even provided sound financial advice, having secured his own financial success from the Navy – “There was no place to spend money on a submarine,” he joked.
Here’s an example, which he gives to some of his classes – each with 21 students – as the holiday season approaches: Would you rather your parents give you $ 5 a day for a month, or a dime first? day, then double each day for a month?
Kids quickly realize that $ 5 a day is the way to go.
He gives a quick math lesson and reveals a dime and the resulting amount doubled every day translates to over $ 5.2 million.
In light of his military service and enviable travels, Gustin’s experiences were enriched through his love for education.
“I have lived in libraries,” he says. “I got my first library card when I was 6 years old.
In the 1950s, he did what most young boys did: he collected coins and stamps, and still has a large collection of coins. He even had a chemistry kit and “made gunpowder, detonated things.”
In college, he struggled; in high school he ran track and field and cross country.
He has more than made his mark in Rio Rancho public schools: a few years ago, he provided a million dollar endowment fund to the school district, whose annual interest has enabled him, he proudly says. , “To buy digital training materials” – literally the gift that keeps on giving.
This AVID concert started, he revealed, because “I wanted to make a difference for one child. “
It has been checked for a long time.