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106 YO Woman Gets Diploma

Updated: Wednesday, March 13 2013, 07:25 PM EDT
COLUMBUS - Reba Williams should've graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1925. She finally did Wednesday afternoon- 88 years later.

And it's all thanks to a reader who thought she deserved a break.

Williams was assigned a book report as one of the last assignments at high school.  But she had already read the assigned book, didn't like it and didn't want to read it again. It was a decision that would change her life.

The 106 year old has always been an avid reader.  But after high school she worked much of her life as a house keeper, cooking and cleaning for others.

She also worked at Malabar Farm, for Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield, and attended the wedding of movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

After Williams story ran in a local paper, someone reached out to the Mount Vernon school board, who voted to approve the diploma. 

Mount Vernon School Superintendent Steve Short made it official Wednesday afternoon at a North Columbus apartment where Williams now lives with her daughter, Lavata Williams, a retired elementary school teacher. 

"Congratulations Reba," said Short. "You're at the top of your class." 

Education was big in Reba's family.  Her mom, Myrtle, graduated from Mount Vernon High School. Reba was smart - but stubborn and wouldn't do the final book assignment. She hopes today's 18 year olds don't follow her example.     

"I would tell them what happened to me," said Williams.  "That's what. And if they expect to get anywhere in this world, you have to learn.  You have to learn."

The 106 year old is still an avid reader, but as for college plans?

"Uh uh," she said with a smile. "Besides I certainly wouldn't be interested in that."

As for the book that caused all the trouble, no one can remember what the title was.


Reporter: Terri Sullivan
Web Producer: Kellie Hanna106 YO Woman Gets Diploma

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