Bob Blum has accomplished a lot in his life. From serving in the US Air Force, starting a successful construction business, and raising a family, Blum has done it all. But the only feat he has ever achieved came true on Friday, May 20, 2022, when Blum graduated from Keizer University in Naples.
Blum made history when he came across the stage as Keizer University’s oldest graduate. Fulfillment is just one of many in a life well lived.
“I am pleased to congratulate Mr. Bob Blum for never giving up on his dreams,” said Arthur Keizer, Ph.D., Chancellor of Keizer University. “He is an inspiration to students around the world and we are proud of his commitment to lifelong learning.”
Growing up in northern Virginia, Blum attended and graduated from high school at Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro in 1946. He initially enrolled at the University of Maryland, but never graduated. He enlisted in the Air National Guard and was later commissioned to serve in the United States Air Force until receiving an honorable discharge in 1953.
After his service in the country, Blum went to work as a salesman in the Washington, D.C. area, selling Valley Forge Beer for a distribution company owned by his mother. He then co-founded a construction company, Blum and Cowen Construction, which built housing estates in Montgomery County, Maryland. Two of his designs were selected as “House of the Year” and Blum was invited to join President Lyndon Johnson’s Residential Building Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. After moving to Florida in 1985, Blum even spent time as a guest columnist covering the bridge for the now-former Islander newspaper in Naples, Florida.
However, Blum says the one achievement that has always eluded him was graduating from college.
“I spent 70 years applying for jobs and the only thing I could list in the education section of those applications was a high school diploma,” Blum said. “I always felt there was something missing in my life without it. [a college degree].”
Throughout his life, Blum considered starting his studies at other universities, but never quite felt at home. “No other university has stood out in my eyes like Keiser University has,” Blum said.
After meeting Dean Michael Nelson of Keizer University’s Naples campus, Blum felt right at home and signed up to start his bachelor’s degree. He commends Lynda Waterhouse, President of Keizer University Naples, for making him feel part of the Keizer University family.
Blum credits his wife, Connie, and daughter, Randy Kashi, for helping him learn the technologies required of modern students. Connie Blum, who once owned a clothing store on Marco Island, now teaches computer technology to seniors and helped Blum learn the multiple computer systems and technologies used by Keizer University.
As a member of the Air Force, Blum understood the importance of service to others and was always willing to give. He managed the Fishburne Military School investment portfolio after his many years of owning his own business. He also advises Fishburne students on their own investments in hopes of teaching them the importance of good budget planning.
Blum continues his spirit of giving today and recently established a scholarship fund at Keizer University. The Robert H. and Connie Blum Fellowship for Dedicated Nurses will be awarded annually to a nursing student at Keizer University in Naples. Blum’s decision to create a scholarship for Keizer University nursing students came after he spent some time in the hospital and bonded with a Keizer nursing student who was on an internship.
During Friday’s opening ceremony, Waterhouse presented Mr. Blum with a plaque, thanking him for his generosity, and announced that the nursing simulation lab at Keizer University in Naples would be named in his honor: the Robert H. and Connie Blum Nursing Lab.
Following successful completion of his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Blum plans to enroll in Keizer University’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice, which he plans to complete online.
Blum’s heartwarming story has been covered by multiple news outlets across Florida and nationally. Visit the links below to see Blum’s story on lifelong learning.
Fox 4 now pi. Myers
GLANCE News Ft. Myers
NBC 6 South Florida
Action News Jacksonville
Keizer University is a private, independent, nonprofit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and at two international locations. Founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keizer University currently offers more than 100 degrees ranging from associates to doctoral degrees. Keiser University is a designated Hispanic-serving institution, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and was ranked #5 in the United States in social mobility by US News And World Report in 2022.