83-Year Old Widower Finds New Meaning in College Education

Fred Lutz participates in class

When we think of a college graduate, we often think of 20- or 30-somethings, who have yet to embark on their chosen career path. Fred Lutz is different from most graduates. At the age of 86, the WWII veteran became one of the oldest graduates to receive a diploma from Lake Forest College last Saturday.

His age isn’t the only thing that sets him apart from his fellow graduates. While most students want to go to college to make more money, or choose a career that requires a college education, Lutz did it because of his late wife, Virginia. She died after a long battle with diabetes in 2007, and he felt like his days were meaningless. His empty hours led him to take a couple of college courses at Lake Forrest.

“I know my Virginia is proud of me,” he said. “I’d like to think she had a hand in me getting back to class. I don’t want to sound too silly about that, but I think that she’s sort of watching over me and smiling, saying, ‘Good work.”‘

His few classes turned to full semesters after a college dean convinced him to take it a step further. Lutz’s ambition got him a master’s degree in liberal studies, a well-rounded program that includes everything from philosophy to science.

Traditional students may take more than eight semesters to graduate, but as Lutz blatantly puts it: “I didn’t have the luxury of time.” So, he managed to graduate in four semesters. It wasn’t easy. He’d often spend all night reading, covering up to 150 pages in one sitting.

His graduation day was no doubt a triumph, but even more important was the knowledge he gained in the past two years.

“It has opened up a door,” he said. “It’s like a child learning new things. Everything is fascinating.”

Via The Seattle Times

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