Paul Resnick, 83, of Highland Beach, says he is at least 15 years older than anyone else in the group he joins for 30-mile bike rides at 6:30 a.m. several days a week. ‘If I don’t exercise, I feel sluggish,’ says Resnick, a retired Coast Guard captain. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Three to five days a week, Paul Resnick leaves his sixth-floor condo in Highland Beach at about 6:30 a.m., grabs his bike and goes for a 30-mile ride with a small group of other bicyclists.
On the road Resnick fits right in, staying close with the group as it proceeds north to Lake Worth Beach before turning around and heading to a restaurant in Delray Beach for coffee.
It’s when he takes off his helmet, however, that it’s evident there’s something different about Resnick — something that separates him from the rest of the riders.
“I’m the oldest in the group — by far,” he says.
At 83, Resnick is at least 15 years older than any other of the riders, yet he has no trouble keeping pace.
That’s not surprising considering that Resnick, a retired military man who spent four years in the Marines as a fighter jet pilot and another 29 in the Coast Guard, primarily as pilot, has always been devoted to exercising.
“It keeps me alive,” said the father of two boys and a grandfather of four. “If I don’t exercise, I feel sluggish.”
A wrestler in high school, Resnick stayed in shape throughout his military career, running with others during his lunch break and finding time to play racquetball with his boss in the Coast Guard, an admiral who enjoyed the game.
In 1987, at 51, Resnick completed the New York Marathon, which he ran with his son Jeff, and qualified for the Boston Marathon. He never got to run in Boston, however.
A short time after the New York Marathon, Resnick went to a doctor for a knee injury and was advised to stop running.
That’s when he started bicycle riding seriously.
A captain in the Coast Guard, who was the commanding officer of two air stations and the chief of search and rescue for the branch’s Pacific area, Resnick retired in 1990. But he continued to ride even after he and his wife, Myrna, the love of his life who died two years ago, moved to Florida to be with aging parents.
A highlight of his bicycling came in 2010 when he joined an active duty Navy SEAL and two retired SEALs on a 3,300-mile ride across country over six weeks. He was 74.
The group, which raised money for the Navy SEAL Foundation, rode 90 miles a day five days straight before resting. They started out in California and ended their trek at the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce.
Last year, Resnick rode 192 miles in two days during the Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike hike through Massachusetts to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Foundation.
Not bad for a guy in his 80s, who seems to be always on the move.
For Resnick, riding not only provides physical exercise, it also keeps his mind sharp and offers a chance to be with friends.
“Most importantly,” he says, “I can eat whatever I want without gaining weight.”
Making time for exercise is something he’s done for most of his life and has become part of his routine.
“It’s what I do,” he says.
Q. Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A. I grew up in Brooklyn, attended New Utrecht High School and City College of New York. I graduated in 1956 with a BBA and majored in public accounting. It gave me a good background in business and a good sense for it.
Q. What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I worked as a public accountant for a small firm for about one year before entering the military. I was four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, followed by 29 years in the Coast Guard with primary duties as an aircraft pilot. I retired as a USCG captain. I’m most proud that there are at least a few people in this world that would not be here if it were not for me or my fellow Coast Guard people.
Q. What advice do you have for a young person selecting a career today?
A. Look around, try things. Find what you are really interested in and what makes you happy. Money is not the most important thing in the world, just so long as you can live reasonably comfortably.
Q. How did you choose to make your home in Highland Beach?
A. My wife, who died two years ago, and I moved from the San Francisco Bay area in 2003 to assist elderly parents and in-laws who were living in Century Village West Palm Beach. We found a condo in Boca Highlands that had everything we needed and wanted, especially the beach and beach club. As a former Coast Guardsman, we always lived near the water.
Q. What is your favorite part about living in Highland Beach?
A. The small-town environment on the beach.
Q. What book are you reading now?
A. I’m reading a James Patterson novel, The First Lady. I just finished a Jack Ryan novel. I like the series by Tom Clancy and his successor ghostwriters.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. I’m not much of a music listener but prefer vocals by old-timers like Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole and such.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A. Do the right thing — or at least try to.
Q. Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A. My first real mentor was an accounting professor in college whose firm I took a part- time job with and then worked for full time until resigning to enter the military. There were two others in the military.
Q. If your life story were made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
A. Kevin Costner — and only because of his role in the movie with Ashton Kutcher about the Coast Guard rescue swimmers.