Carlsbad man, 90, receives 3rd master's degree from CSU San Marcos

Wally Taibleson is oldest CSU system graduate

SAN MARCOS, Calif. - The adage "it's never too late" couldn't be more true than for a Carlsbad man.

On Friday, Wally Taibleson received his master's degree in education from Cal State University San Marcos. At 90 years old, he is the oldest graduate in the 23-campus CSU system.

Macular degeneration has nearly robbed him of his vision. He wears glasses and uses a magnifying headpiece, and sometimes he also holds a magnifying glass. It helps for any text he reads to be printed in 36-point font size, which is about half an inch high.

"It's difficult to read anything, but I force myself," said Taibleson.

Despite the challenges, it's really more what drives him to study that makes him unique.

"It keeps you a lot younger than you would be, and this is the third master's degree," said Taibleson.

All three of his master's degrees are from CSU San Marcos, which is also where he earned his bachelor's degree.

"I'm pretty well accepted. I think I'm pretty well known around the whole campus," Taibleson said.

Taibleson began his college career at 70, starting at MiraCosta College.

"You're never too old to go to college. I'm an example," Taibleson said.

Taibleson grew up in Maywood, Ill. After high school, he found an accounting job, married the love of his life, Clare, became a certified public accountant and had four kids. He worked his way up to CFO and vice chairman of the board of National Can Corp. in Chicago. He retired in 1984 and traveled the world.

His son, Jim, suggested his dad do the one thing he had not done yet in his otherwise accomplished life -- go to college.

"There's only so much time you can spend tending to your roses," said Jim Taibleson.

When asked if he was proud of his father he said, "It's so inspiring. It's so humbling."

Taibleson almost quit after Clare passed away 12 years ago, but he said it gave him purpose.

He said this may have to be it for the master's degrees, but not for the learning or the hope he can somehow give back.

"I don't want to sound foolish, you know, save the world, but at least you like to make some kind of impression," said Taibleson.

Taibleson was one of 2,742 CSU San Marcos graduates this spring.

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