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Depression dropout gets diploma

June 7, 2009 at 12:39 AM

CHICAGO, June 7 (UPI) -- A Chicago-area woman who dropped out of high school in her senior year to help her parents during the Depression has received a diploma 73 years later.

In the intervening years, Eleanor Benz, 90, married, studied typing and bookkeeping and produced 15 children, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday. She has 54 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.

Benz said she wanted to stay at Lake View High School but felt she had no choice.

"I only had a few months left, but a job opened up where my sister worked, and that was a rare thing in 1936, to find a job before you finished high school," she said. "It was turn your paycheck over ... keep a couple of dollars for yourself. Then with getting married and raising kids, I never did go back."

Benz's children arranged the diploma after she told one of them that not graduating from high school was her greatest disappointment. Karen Siciliano, a secretary at the school, found an old yearbook showing Benz as a sophomore and other records.

Benz received the diploma, the yearbook and a cap and gown -- with a class of 1936 tassel -- at her 90th birthday party May 30.

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