GREENFIELD, Ind. - More than 300 students graduated from Greenfield Central High School on Saturday – but one of them had waited a little bit longer than the rest.
Joining a group of smiling teenagers was 91-year-old Walter Worland, who received his diploma this weekend 72 years after leaving high school.
"Instead of graduating with his class in 1942, Mr. Worland saw a greater need to serve his country," an announcer said at the ceremony.
Worland, a lifelong Greenfield resident, never did finish high school. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII, part of "The Greatest Generation."
"Education wasn't important," Worland said. "It was survival at that time. That's how your whole generation felt. The whole generation … we were in the Depression."
Greenfield Central Schools trustees said they were "very proud, honored and humbled to award [Worland] this long overdue and well-deserved high school diploma."
Debbie Wilkerson, Worland's daughter, said it was a momentous occasion for her father.
"It's just such a wonderful justification," Wilkerson said. "He has always prized education and helped his community so much. I think it's a beacon to everybody how important education is and that it's never too late."
At 91, Worland still logs volunteer hours with Meals on Wheels, the American Red Cross and the Greenfield Rotary.
The former Greenfield City Councilman and Board of Zoning Appeals member funds scholarships for students at four local high schools. And, he's credited with helping to bring a new library to Greenfield Central Junior High.
"I feel real honored," Worland said. "It's a day I looked forward to for several years I guess. Life just goes on, you just put things off, and this is one of them I enjoyed very much. And now I'm bawling."
After serving his community and country, Worland says this is something that's been on his bucket list. After 72 years, he's finally crossed it off.
In addition to his honorary diploma, Worland also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.
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