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Ohio woman receives high school diploma for 93rd birthday

By Daniel Uria   |   March 10, 2016 at 12:17 PM

FAIRLAWN, Ohio, March 10 (UPI) -- An Ohio woman was able to rectify one of her life's greatest regrets by receiving her high school diploma more than 70 years after she would have graduated.

Dorothy Liggett, 93, celebrated her birthday by finally receiving her high school diploma in a small ceremony in front of her home, attended by family members and the Superintendent of Akron Public Schools.

Liggett was unable to complete her senior year of high school after being expelled from North high school in 1942 for revealing that she was married.

"In those days, if you were married you couldn't go to school," she told newnet5.com.

Liggett ran away to Kentucky to marry her then fiance, John Huston, after he had been called to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps. She accidentally revealed that she was married to a gym teacher after she felt belittled for forgetting her gym clothes.

At the time Liggett also learned that she was pregnant with her daughter Janice Larkin, who wrote a letter to the school board requesting her mother receive her diploma.

"She always felt that by not getting her high school diploma, she had not done what she should have," Larkin, 73, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I feel responsible because she was pregnant with me when she was expelled."

Larkin's letter explained her mother's deep regret and noted how she constantly stressed the importance of education to her children and any other young people she met. Her story caught the attention of Superintendent David W. James who sought to rectify the mistake.

"When I read the letter, and did some follow-up research, I felt terrible for the way Mrs. Liggett was treated all of those years ago and wanted to do what we could to make it up to her," he said. "To have invested 13 years in school, to have been a good student and still not receive a diploma because of that, was simply wrong."

During the ceremony Liggett was presented with a black cap and gown as James shook her hand while presenting her with her diploma.

"Her one regret is no longer a regret. It is a fulfilled ambition," Ligget's son 67-year-old son Donald Huston said. "I'm really thrilled that she is finally getting the one thing she always told us she wished she had gotten. This is a special birthday gift. It gives credence to her entire life."

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