World Traveler, 73, begins college

Taylor Best
Photography Editor

“I didn’t want to spend another winter in the house with the cat on my lap, watching TV, reading a good book every now and again. I wanted to get out and exercise my mind—so here I am.”


It’s a sunny afternoon outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. As the American boy stands mesmerized inside the Sistine Chapel. He squints, staring upwards toward the exalted ceiling.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, it’s definitely a moving experience to see the work of Michelangelo,” said Angus Cumming, a 73 year old Crowder student.

As Cumming spoke about his travels, encounters, triumphs and failures, his craving for adventure and exploration practically breathed life into each word. Each experience that Cumming has lived through has led him to this point, becoming a non-traditional student with such gusto and desire to learn as much as he possibly can.

Angus has worked all his life. At the age of 10, he delivered newspapers while attending school in Boston, where he lived until the age of 16. At that point, Cumming’s brother, who lived overseas in Tuscany, Italy with his Belgium wife and family, presented the opportunity of a lifetime to young Angus.

“He told me I could come live with him and finish school there, and of course I jumped at the opportunity,” said Cumming.

Angus lived in northern Italy for two years, and ultimately graduated with a class of 12 people from Livorno American High School. While there, he learned to speak Italian, and experience some historical and cultural aspects while traveling through many of the small towns and villages.

East Coast

After graduating from high school, Cumming ventured back to Boston, where he was once again presented with an incredible opportunity. A friend of a friend, who was an engineering student at MIT, asked him if he would be interested in working as a computer technician.

Cumming began his first job as an adult as a computer technician in 1963 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While Cumming was employed by MIT, he worked on one of the nation’s largest IBM computer systems at the time; such as the IBM 7094 and the IBM 1401, both very large installments.

In December of 1966, a distant cousin of Cumming offered him a job that he ensured would expand his horizons.

Angus began working at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts that winter, despite the ice cold weather.

“It [the job] was really interesting, because I was working on nuclear submarines. I went to work there for general dynamics, working on the electric boat, and they built atomic submarines. I did some schooling at the navy bureau of ships for the technology that enabled me to perform quality control of the valves and the thresher class fast attack submarines. Ultimately I performed the ultrasonic testing on the valves in the hull of the submarines, “ Cumming said.

After one harsh winter in the shipyard, Cumming decided to go back to MIT to work in the computer lab, where he stayed until 1969.

Proudly displaying catch of the day—a giant crab—while living in Alaska.

Proudly displaying catch of the day—a giant crab—while living in Alaska.

West Coast

At that time, Cumming’s boss at MIT had been transferred to work as the director of operations at a start-up company called National Computer Software Systems (NCSS) in Stanford, Connecticut and let him in on a new project they were excited to begin. There would be a new office opening in Sunnyvale, California, making them the first computer company there, which, ironically, is located in what is now known as Silicon Valley, the home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations.

Angus spoke, without taking a pause, “He asked if I would be interested, and it was another great opportunity, so I said, ‘Sure.’”

Angus packed up and moved across country in October 1969, and almost like he could feel the hot sun trace his skin again, Cumming said, “Low and behold, where has California been my whole life?”

Cumming held the position of operations manager at NCSS for a year and half, and after a few years in California, he began to plot his next adventure which required a road trip up North.

Angus holding his Alaskan wild salmon.

Upon his desire to relocate, Angus got in touch with head of the department of labor in Juneau, Alaska to align a job. After obtaining job security, there was nothing holding him back. He had always enjoyed being outdoors, fishing and photography, and felt as though Alaska would be an excellent place to live out his hobbies.

Angus gave 2 weeks’ notice to his boss at the time and went on his way, trekking upstate through Northern California, Oregon and Canada. Once he arrived in Alaska, he took a ferry, the Matanuska, out to landlocked Juneau. Once he arrived, he was introduced to the department of labor head, David. While becoming acclimated to the area, Angus was exposed to the Alaskan Native Americans, known as the Tlingit Indians, and ultimately took some courses with the Alaska Native Training Institute to counsel the locals.

While in Juneau, Angus occupied his time with commercial fishing for salmon and halibut, gold panning, scuba diving, sailing his boat and hiking with his dog Roscoe.
Cumming stayed in Juno from 1977 to 1988, before deciding to leave with his pup and travel across Canada and the United States.

After road tripping for about a year, Angus found his way to managing a thrift shop in Oregon, working for a Bay Area hospital as a computer technician, and working with the Kiwanis, all before finding a random real-estate opportunity in Neosho, Missouri in 2005.

Present day Angus.

Present day Angus.

Crowder College

All of his life – all of the people, places and experiences – led him to this point, in Neosho, as a full time Crowder student.

Cumming began taking his first college classes in the fall of 2013. He is currently enrolled in Weight Training, Math, Keyboarding, World Geography and Criminal Justice. He doesn’t have any intentions to pursue a degree, although, if it happens – then he’s just fine with that.
Although he has spent more than 50 years out of the educational setting, he seems to be adjusting to the life of a Roughrider effortlessly.

Cumming said, “The idea of coming back to school was to enjoy the academics. I didn’t want to spend another winter in the house with the cat on my lap, watching TV, reading a good book every now and again. I wanted to get out and exercise my mind – so here I am.”