50 Years Later, Fire Inspector Earns College Degree At 70

You’re never too old to achieve your dreams which is what Don Ross set out to do by finishing something he started 50 years ago. At the age of 70, Ross just earned his college degree. He now works as a part-time fire inspector in Farmers Branch, Texas near Dallas. He started his bachelor’s degree in Illinois as a 20-year-old, before being called to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War.

Ross spent two years serving his country, fighting in Southeast Asia, before returning home. He tried to return to school, but described the atmosphere for returning Vietnam Veterans as “unwelcoming,” prompting him to enter the workforce.

“We were called ‘baby killers,’ and spat upon and really harassed pretty much,” he recalled. “So, I dropped out of school and went to work.” He spent the next 30 years working for an insurance company and a home improvement retailer, but he always wanted to go back to college.

As reported by CBS11 News, a house fire 10 years ago, at the home he shared with his wife Nancy, would change the course of his life again. Ross was so fascinated with the fire investigation process, he studied to become a firefighter, fire inspector, investigator, and certified Texas peace officer at the age of 60.

“I suppose it’s like an explorer wanting to climb a mountain — it’s there, it’s obtainable, so let’s do it,” he said. “Let’s have some fun doing it.”

Then in 2011, he started to work again on his undergraduate degree. Three years of night classes later and with a 3.8 GPA, Ross earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas.

“At age 70, Don is really hitting his stride,” said Farmers Branch Fire Chief Steve Parker. “We’re looking forward to having Don serve the citizens of Farmers Branch well into the future.” His bachelor’s degree is the centerpiece of his office inside the fire station where he works.

“I can only pull so many weeds out of my garden, and play so many rounds of golf,” Ross said.

In a Farmers Branch fire station, you’ll find Don Ross checking gear, as reported by WFAA8 News.

“I don’t ride the vehicles — I’ll let the young kids do that,” he said. “They’re very good at what they do.”

Ross has decided he wants to continue his education and has started working on a master’s degree with a concentration of criminal justice. This one won’t take decades to complete, he says. He plans to finish it by 2018.

In an article by the Inquisitr, learn how Facebook is now being linked to increasing the brain power in the elderly which may lead to more senior citizens furthering their education.