At 84, Colorado man gets high school diploma

/ Source: The Associated Press

There's at least one guy with a new high school diploma who's not worrying about getting into college or finding a job.

After all, Takeshi Murata is 84.

Murata was 18 and a student at University High School in Greeley, Colo., in 1944 when he was drafted to fight in World War II, according to the Greeley Daily Tribune newspaper.

Though he was the son of Japanese immigrants, he grew up speaking English. In the Army, he was trained in an intelligence unit and given some studies in Japanese. After the war, he was sent to serve in U.S. military headquarters in Tokyo.

"I really didn't know Japanese that well," Murata told the Tribune. "But I'd learned a little in the intelligence schools, so they sent me."

He met his wife, Chikako, there, he said. They married in Japan and in 1947 returned to northeast Colorado.

'Told me I wasn't qualified'
Murata approached his old school, thinking his military intelligence classes should suffice for any coursework he missed when he left school at 18.

"The school officials told me I wasn't qualified to graduate," he told the Tribune.

Murata dropped the diploma quest and followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a farmer. He raised five children — each of whom earned college degrees.

But Murata still had no diploma of his own until a teacher at the school, Jeanne Lipman, heard his story last year. She found Murata's report cards, got an original diploma from one of his old classmates and turned them over to University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton. The high school is now called University High; the university ran it when Murata attended.

Norton presented the diploma to Murata on Wednesday night, and his family celebrated with cake and a party. Murata, smiling, joked about the lengthy process.

"I'm 84 years old now," he said. "What am I going to do with a diploma? Look for a job?"