Never Too Old to Learn

After overcoming the obstacles, he realizes that God had a purpose for him that included his experience in technology.

- Posted on Aug 28, 2017

Dietrich Schultz and Johnnie Mullin (right) lead a computer class for residents in a Eugene, Oregon, retirement community.

Content provided by Good Samaritan Society.

Dietrich Schultz has survived a head-on car crash and beat cancer. In each case, he says he should have died, but God left him here for a reason. He says moving to a senior community four years ago helped him discover why he's still alive.

Finding A Place to Plug In

Dietrich Schultz found his 50 years of computer experience were needed to help fellow residents stay connected using their phones and tablets. He was first exposed to computers in 1968 as a student. In 1979, he bought his first computer and, despite being legally blind, taught himself to write programs on it. It was the start of a long career working with and teaching computers to others.

One of the first people Dietrich met was David Moursund, a retired math and computer professor, who started a weekly technology class at the senior living campus. David had already brought in one of his former doctoral students, Johnnie Mullin, to teach. David knew Dietrich would be the perfect addition to help lead the class.

The Joy of Discovery

Each week the group circles up in a large room, phones and tablets in hand, to talk tech.

Dietrich and Johnnie lead the discussion and answer questions. It’s an open forum where everything from the basics — like how to send an email — to the latest gadgets get discussed. “The most change that I’ve seen is the joy of discovery,” Dietrich says. “People are asking a lot more questions.”

Eighty-four-year old student Ray Shepherd is here every week, armed with his tablet and a new list of questions. “I wonder about that, I wonder about this," he says, “then I suddenly realize it's right here." He holds up his tablet. “I find the answers to most all of my questions right here.“

“The Lord is my guide in all this, so all I can do is faithfully follow.” – Dietrich Schultz

Nothing Can Hold You Back

Dietrich has no vision in his left eye and only 5 percent in his right eye. But he doesn’t let blindness slow him from showing his fellow residents computer tips and tricks. He holds a tablet or phone close to his face, and uses a magnifying glass to see just enough to scroll and type.

“I think it’s an attitude of not listening to the voices that tell you you can’t do anything just because you have an eye problem,” he says. When class is over, the learning doesn’t stop. Residents are encouraged to practice on their own. Dietrich has set up a computer lounge for them, and he makes regular house calls any time someone needs technical help.

“When our computers die, it’s not the end of the world now,” says resident Bonnie Sankey. Dietrich doesn’t need his eyesight to see his knowledge as a gift from God. He says he wants to keep using it as long as he can. “I just gotta share it. The Lord is my guide in all this, so all I can do is faithfully follow.”

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