Written by: Student Kailey Leinz, University of Virginia
He looks out over the open water, takes the pack of cigarettes out of the front pocket of his¬†Hawaiian-printed shirt, and pulls one out. He lights it and raises it to his lips, puffing smoke¬†out towards the sea. He looks satisfied. If you‚Äôre ever looking for him, you can almost¬†always find him here, doing this.
His name is Andrew Clayton Pringle, Jr. He goes by¬†Andy. He was born in July of 1927, and today, in¬†2016, he is sailing around the world on Semester¬†at Sea‚Äôs MV World Odyssey, on a voyage to places¬†that, in his 88 years, he has never been. He‚Äôs the¬†oldest man on the ship.
Circumnavigating the globe is not something that¬†he ever thought he‚Äôd do. He was born and raised¬†in Michigan and to this day has never lived¬†anywhere else. Most of his life has been focused around raising his family and his law¬†practice. He doesn‚Äôt consider himself an extraordinary person, just a self-described ‚Äúpretty¬†regular guy.‚Äù
Yet Andy‚Äôs life has certainly been far from ordinary. In 1945, at 17 years old, he enlisted inthe Navy; he would‚Äôve been drafted into the Army at 18 anyway, and the ‚ÄúNavy seemed so¬†much cleaner‚Äù, he said. Towards the end of WWII, he was deployed to the Aleutian Islands,where he worked as a Navy electrician. He served for 18 months, and was discharged in¬†1946.
Upon returning home‚Äîto Michigan, of course‚ÄîAndy received his BA in History and¬†English from the University of Michigan. By 1955, he would graduate with a law degree¬†from Wayne University in Detroit.
In 1953, he married Jacqueline Mann. They had three children together; two daughters,¬†Catherine and Beverly, and a son, Andrew Clayton Pringle III (who, like his father, chose to¬†go by another name‚ÄîClayton). But after 17 years of marriage, the first of several tragedies¬†in Andy‚Äôs life struck. Jacqueline died of adrenal cancer at the age of 37.
He didn‚Äôt get remarried for five years. He wanted to wait to start dating again until his kids¬†were in college. When he married his second wife, he ‚Äúadopted‚Äù her two children, and¬†raised his second family with the same dedication as the first.
Aside from his family, Andy also gave himself to his law practice. He worked as a¬†government attorney in an adjunct prosecutor‚Äôs office for 17 years, before leaving to go¬†into private practice at the age of 41. He has not once regretted it.
‚ÄúLeaving the government to go into private practice was the best decision I ever made,‚Äù he¬†said. ‚ÄúI could engage in a wide spectrum of law.‚Äù
His practice has allowed him to specialize in many different areas; labor relations,bankruptcy, and commercial collections, to name a few. In later years, he focused primarily¬†on estate planning.
Andy, an obvious hard worker, also considers himself an ‚Äúoptimist to a fault.‚Äù He is always¬†accused of looking at the rosy side of things, he said. But this has proved to serve him well.
He lost his son, Clayton, to an accident when he was 22 years old. His second wife died of¬†colon cancer in 2013. But despite three tragic loses over the course of his lifetime, Andy has¬†survived.
‚ÄúI just kept working because I knew if I did not, I could fall apart,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI just never¬†stopped.‚Äù
And he means it when he says he never stopped. He continued working at his law practice¬†until six months ago, when his daughter, Cathy, a professor, invited him to come on¬†Semester at Sea as a nanny to his 15-year-old granddaughter, Pamela. The voyage is the¬†closest he‚Äôs come to retirement.
‚ÄúIt is my intention to retire [when I get home],‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúAlthough I‚Äôm not sure that I want¬†to. But it kind of seems silly for me to keep on practicing. So I‚Äôm not positive what I‚Äôm going¬†to do in the future.‚Äù
He loves his practice too much and doesn‚Äôt want to let go of it, he said. He probably¬†wouldn‚Äôt have stopped practicing anytime soon if he hadn‚Äôt accepted his daughter‚Äôs offer.
‚ÄúI would have continued practicing law¬†until physically or mentally unable to do¬†so,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a creature of habit.‚Äù
It is for this very reason that most of his¬†travels have been in his later life, and¬†his children have encouraged all of it.¬†His kids sent him and his wife on a¬†Mediterranean cruise for his seventieth¬†birthday, and he has traveled to Costa¬†Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Scotland¬†with his grown daughters.
He simply never really thought about traveling, just about his family and his work, he said.¬†Usually, he just makes trips to Georgia and Washington D.C. to see his daughters‚Äîdespite¬†the distance, they are all still very close and he sees them anywhere from four to seven¬†times a year‚Äîand places like Asia and Africa are far from the norm.
But in a departure from habit, it only took him five minutes to decide to do SAS with Cathy,¬†his eldest, he said.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve said to myself, if you‚Äôre talking to twenty people, and ask them what they want to do intheir life, half of them would say ‚Äòtake a trip around the world‚Äô,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThis has really¬†been a dream.‚Äù
Yet, even as he sails around the world, living the dream at almost ninety years old, Andy, in¬†character, still claims that he‚Äôs not exceptional.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt have a very glamorous life,‚Äù he chuckled. ‚ÄúBut it‚Äôs a hell of a happy one.‚Äù