On her 93rd birthday, Dorothy Louise Liggett of Fairlawn, Ohio, received the thing she’d always wanted: her high school diploma.
In 1942, Liggett, then a high school senior at Akron's North High School, was two months away from receiving her degree. However, Liggett’s school found out she was married, and expelled her before she could receive the prized piece of paper, the Akron Beacon Journal reports.
Liggett had eloped with her husband during World War II, right after he was called into the U.S. Army Air Corps. A few months later, Liggett found out she was pregnant. She planned to lay low and join her husband after she finished school. However, Liggett accidentally spilled the beans about her union to a gym teacher. After forgetting her gym suit, the teacher told Liggett to go to study hall. “No. I’m married. I’m going home,” Liggett retorted.
Since the school’s policy was to ban married students, Liggett never finished her senior year. She eventually gave birth to her daughter, and traveled with her husband to military bases while he finished his pilot training.
Liggett had four more children, but she always regretted not earning her high school diploma. “When we were growing up, my mother always insisted that I and my siblings finish school and go to college,” her daughter, Janice Larkin, told the Beacon Journal. “She did the same thing with her grandchildren, great grandchildren and even neighborhood children. She would tell us how important education is and say that the worst thing you could do is not finish school.”
Recently, Larkin wrote to Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James, who looked into the matter and felt “terrible” about the way Liggett was treated. To make amends, James hand-delivered a diploma to Liggett on her birthday on Wednesday. The surprise ceremony fulfilled Liggett's one life regret, she said. “I always felt bad not having this,” she said. “Even though I’m 93 years old, I still like having it.”
Watch Liggett receive her diploma and toss a graduation cap in the above video, courtesy of ABC News.
[h/t Akron Beacon Journal]