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Queens College secretary, 81, retires after 37 years

In mid-July, Queens College will lose a familiar face that has graced its academic support office for more than 37 years when Shirley Deifik, 81, retires from her longtime post.

Deifik said she looks forward to sleeping in a bit later at her home in Deepdale Gardens.

"Age is getting me. I'm getting tired of waking up at 2 a.m. to do laundry," she said. "I'm going to take a vacation and wake up at 4 a.m."

A Queens College alumna, Deifik had a degree in education and was eyeing a career in teaching when the school asked her to work there.

"I wasn't going to work here. I'd just graduated with a B.A. when [Queens College] asked me to fill in for someone for two months," she said. "I had taken the certification exam and passed very high, but I took the job and have been here since."

Deifik is secretary to Howard Kleinmann, Ph.D., the chairman of the English as a Second Language Department, at least until she retires later this month.

Deifik's daughter, Audrey, a financial analyst, wrote in an e-mail that their mother attended college while raising a young family on her own after she was widowed.

"My family is very proud of my mother's accomplishments. She had three children and enrolled at Queens College to pursue a B.A. part-time," Audrey Deifik wrote. "My mom not only kept our house running smoothly, but graduated magna cum laude and continued her education at C.W. Post, where she graduated with two master's degrees while maintaining a perfect 4.0 average."

Audrey Deifik said her mother rarely takes time off from work.

"She takes her responsibilities very seriously. I wish I had her energy," she wrote. "In fact, she has accumulated so many sick and vacation days that her retirement won't begin until May 2009 even though she is leaving the college in July."

The Deifik family was the first to move into Deepdale Gardens, where Shirley Deifik has lived for 57 years.

"We were the first tenants. There were farms all around and the streets were all mud" when they moved in, she said. "There were peacocks and the animals would moo. That's why my husband took me there!"

Deifik is not sure of her plans after retirement, but is firm on her intention to stay put in Queens.

"I'm not a canasta lady. Maybe I'll volunteer someplace where people are nice," she said.

But moving to Florida does not interest her. "I will expire here. It's a very nice place, Deepdale Gardens," she said. "The neighborhood is nice, there's everything you want — no subway, but there's everything else. My son takes me around because I don't drive anymore."

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