Fran Benz, center, receives her CPR certification from Community First Responder owner Rich Brujitske and the instructor for the class that Benz completed, Rose Black.

Fran Benz, center, receives her CPR certification from Community First Responder owner Rich Brujitske and the instructor for the class that Benz completed, Rose Black.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Senior, 90, is ‘star student’ in CPR class

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published September 21, 2022


ST. CLAIR SHORES/GROSSE POINTE CITY — In her years teaching CPR through Community First Responder in St. Clair Shores, Rose Black has had students of all ages learn this potentially lifesaving skill. But one particular student really stood out.

When speaking with students during a class this August, Black learned that one of them, Fran Benz, of Grosse Pointe City, was a retired registered nurse and former volunteer at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, who had enrolled to renew her CPR certification as a medical professional, and to keep her skills updated. The shock came when Black also learned that Benz was 90; she’ll turn 91 in October.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Black said of Benz, who’s still driving, looks much younger than her chronological age and is sharp mentally and physically. Recent articles are touting the theory that 90 may one day be the new 40, and Benz — who Black called “amazing” — is living proof that age truly is just a number.

Black, of St. Clair Shores, is a registered medical assistant who is certified to teach CPR. She said Benz took careful notes and paid close attention, unlike a couple of others in the same class, who later struggled with the test.

“She was actually my star student that day,” Black said of Benz, who took the Basic Life Support, or BLS, class for health care providers. “(She) took the test … (and) only got one (answer) wrong. She passed with flying colors.”

Benz said she’s never had to use her CPR skills, but she’s glad to have them.

“You just never know,” Benz said. “And (CPR is) a key. You might never use it, but at least you have it. And you won’t panic (in an emergency).”

The class Benz took included CPR for infants and children, as well as automated external defibrillator training and how to address a choking incident.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital setting each year, and 90% of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting die as a result. CPR — particularly when started immediately — can double or triple a person’s chances of survival.

Benz started her nursing career in 1959 at Detroit Receiving Hospital. She took some time off to raise a family and then worked for Bon Secours Hospital — and later Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe — along with teaching nursing at Providence Hospital. Benz said she retired roughly 20 years ago.

“I’ve just been so blessed,” Benz said.

Rich Brujitske, of Grosse Pointe Woods, who owns Community First Responder, said Benz is the oldest student he’s ever seen come through the program, “and I’ve been doing this almost 30 years.”

Black said Benz is “an inspiration,” and she hopes other seniors will follow her example and enroll in a CPR session.

“You’re never too old to learn,” Black said.

Benz, who stays young by remaining active, agrees.

“You can’t give up,” Benz said.

Although students can take any of Community First Responder’s classes at their St. Clair Shores office, instructors will also come to workplaces, schools, churches and other locations to lead classes in CPR, first aid and active violence event response, among others.

“(It’s an) excellent opportunity for the community,” Benz said.

For more information, visit or call (586) 359-6494.