Man Who Started College In 1920 Finally Gets Degree

MARION, Ohio (AP) - Oliver Hamilton finally has a degree from Ohio State University. It just took longer than he had planned.

The 98-year-old Hamilton, who attended the university from 1920 to 1923, got his diploma Thursday during a ceremony at OSU's Marion campus.

A chemical engineering major, Hamilton left school eight decades ago to help his father run a family farm and stone quarrying business.

He never went back to school, but worked full time at the quarry until last year, when he and his 94-year-old brother Merle retired. With encouragement from his daughters, Jane Ford and Judy Kilbury, and close friend Grace Symansic, Hamilton decided to finish college.

His wife of 65 years, Madelon, died six years ago.

Hamilton had no problem with his admissions interview, and the university registrar determined that he needed five more credits to have the 90 required for graduation. He enrolled in an independent-study course that combined English composition and computer work.

"He wanted to become computer-proficient," said Debby Shade, administrator at OSU-Marion.

Hamilton is currently auditing a Vietnam War history course and plans to take a geography course next.

"His studies were interrupted, you might say, temporarily," OSU-Marion Dean F. Dominic Dottavio said before awarding an associate of arts degree to Hamilton at commencement.

He then revealed Hamilton's age, and the audience responded with gasps, applause and a standing ovation.

The last obstacle to receiving the degree came when Hamilton had to get credits transferred from OSU's main campus in Columbus to the Marion branch.

University officials had a hard time finding his records.

"We called down to get them, but they weren't in their computer database," Shade said. "They had to send someone to the library, and they found them there in the archives with all the other historical documents."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)