World War II veteran Walter Bunker is 90 years old. He had a lifelong dream that for various reasons remained unfulfilled all these years. However, the nonagenarian recently made his dream come true when he graduated from Xavier University last Saturday with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, cum laude — thereby completing a task he had kept pending for the last 70 years!
When Walter Bunker was in college back in the mid 40s — 1944 to be precise — he realized that if he completed his course, he would have to leave his home and go looking for a job. He therefore decided to “put it for a little bit,” he says to Fox 19 News who reported his incredible story. Before joining the military, he had also spent a year in school on a scholarship playing the violin. Soon after, World War II commenced and he got busy with other priorities in life. After serving in the military, Walter was honorably discharged. It was then that he decided to complete his pending college degree. However, he was soon working with his uncle’s business. The degree took a backseat once again.
Over the years, Walter married the woman he loved, had children and grandchildren. He was afflicted with lung cancer at one point in his life which he successfully overcame. Life was good, content. Only one thing kept him worried: He was still not a graduate. Walter adds that he felt embarrassed when his own kids talked about their degrees and he had none to talk about. When it started bothering him too much, Walter Bunker did the unthinkable: He contacted Xavier’s office of the registrar for his prospects about completing his course, pending seven decades! The registrar promised to help. A little over a week after he asked them for help, they informed him that, thanks to his Military service, Walter Bunker only needed two credits to earn his degree! The registrar had, after all these years, managed to dig up Walter’s old records!
Even though Walter Bunker didn’t have a degree, he has had a fruitful career in real-estate, teaching, and writing. His writing abilities eventually ended up earning Walter a liberal arts degree late last week. An Xavier professor, who agreed to help Walter earn his degree, asked him to send in two of the stories Walter had written. After checking the stories, the professor decided that Walter was qualified enough to earn his long-pending degree. The professor told him to “start sending out invitations to his graduation.”
On the day of his graduation, another war veteran named Ryan Hoefer — 60 years younger than him — had the privilege of joining Bunker and escorting him in Saturday’s celebration. Hoefer later told a Fox 19 reporter that it was a privilege for him to escort a man of Walter Bunker’s caliber and help him graduate. Walter in turn described Hoefer as a wonderful escort and a very strong man with arms of steel!
Walter said he owed his success to many people in his life — especially his wife, Martha. “I owe a great deal to my beautiful lady-wife Martha. She stood behind me through thick and thin, mainly through thick,” he said. In his own words, the earning of his long cherished degree is the culmination of his life. He also has a piece of advice to the young. “It’s never too late to be what you might have been,” he says, quoting George Eliot.
That said, Walter Bunker is still not done. He is working on three stories that should be published soon. He is also authoring a book titled Change Happens. And now that he finally has a degree, he says it’s time to start looking for a job! Walter always wished to be a cowboy and says he hopes one day to get on his Cayuse with his gal and ride off into the sunset.
[Image via YouTube]