Irving Ladimer joined his first Community Board 8 meeting in 1988, when he could visit the movie theater to see Tom Cruise in “Rain Man,” and spend just $3.50.
He had just turned 72 back then, and was looking to enjoy his retirement by giving back, advocating for better health care and encouraging more senior citizens to take part in the community, all while demystifying how government works.
As he gets ready to turn 102 on Feb.16, Ladimer still serves on CB8, spending time on both the aging and the rules and ethics committees. And he’s almost as busy now as he was as an attorney and teaching health care law at schools like New York University and Columbia University.
“Age has not stopped him,” said Lisa Daub, chair of the aging committee, which Ladimer founded more than a decade ago. “He is an inspiration.”
“He is just so dedicated, and his whole life has been about civic engagement and working to the benefit of people with disabilities and the health and welfare of people of all ages.”
And Ladimer always has advocated that as people like him grow older, Daub added, they should be allowed to age with grace and be treated well.
“When I think of Irving, I think of his energy and his intelligence and his thoughtfulness,” said Rosemary Ginty, CB8’s chair, who worked with Ladimer on the law, rules and ethics committee. “He cares about issues and he takes his job on the board very seriously.”
Ladimer, who occasionally uses a cane, regularly attends his committee meetings. He usually only misses them when there is bad weather.
The widowed father of two — who has resided in Riverdale for more than 60 years — now lives on his own, but is regularly visited by home health care aides.
“My objective in life, for which the community board is an example, is to leave this world better than I found it,” Ladimer said. “The community board represents the one area, which gives us a chance to express our views, and in particular for me, to give me the opportunity to talk about the particular groups I am concerned about.”
One of the projects Ladimer is passionate about is elderly pharmaceutical insurance coverage, or more commonly known as EPIC.
It is a state program for income-eligible seniors to supplement their out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug prescription costs.
Drug stores have been “very remiss” in advertising the discount, Ladimer said, until he steps in and encourages them to promote the program.
Ladimer’s other passion is making sure residents of all ages understand how government works.
“Most people don’t seem to know who to go to in the event they have a question,” he said. “So, I have to promote the idea of learning who your Assemblyman is, who your senator is and so forth, for the simple reason of getting people to work together.”
Through grants from the American Bar Association and the help of groups like Yes the Bronx, Ladimer arranged for seminars at local libraries to teach “Government 101” last year, learning about the federal, state and city levels.
From building a stronger relationship between Riverdale residents and Bronx health care facilities, to educating people about the Constitution, Ladimer says despite a recent trip to the hospital, he still has a lot more work to do in getting more senior citizens engaged with CB8.
“My purpose in staying on the board, and in particular through the aging committee, is to encourage people to get them to feel strongly and more actively to do the things they are interested in,” Ladimer said. “We have to do more to provide a surge of interest on the part of people who care, who will benefit from it and contribute.”