Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At 83, World War II vet Milton Stevenson picks up diploma from Gulf High in Pasco

Milton Stevenson shares a moment with his wife, Myrtice, Thursday night before his diploma ceremony. 

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Milton Stevenson shares a moment with his wife, Myrtice, Thursday night before his diploma ceremony. 

NEW PORT RICHEY — It has been six decades since Milton Stevenson sat in a Gulf High School classroom, trying his hand at grammar and arithmetic.

He dropped out as a freshman and fudged his age to join the U.S. Navy during World War II. The call to service was, for him, louder than the call to math class.

But this week, at 83 years old with a couple careers under his belt, Stevenson came back for his diploma.

"It's a milestone in anyone's life," Stevenson, with several admiring family members in tow, said Thursday before adult graduation ceremonies at River Ridge High School.

During the war, he was sent to Okinawa, Japan, where he built runways and roads, as well as water purification facilities for Marines and soldiers coming back from front lines.

After the war, he enrolled in beauty school and worked for a time doing "whatever ladies get done in beauty shops."

Next up: woodworking.

"I learned that," he said. "Very good at it."

He managed two million-dollar carpentry businesses for other people, he said, then struck out on his own.

After 22 years, this high school dropout called it a career.

"Not getting a high school education, it did hinder me because there were a lot of things I would have learned," said Stevenson, who now lives in Fort White, about 30 miles northwest of Gainesville. "But as far as not being able to advance up in the ranks of business, why, I was very fortunate. I think the Lord has helped me out very well."

Old fashioned self-motivation helped, too.

"I see people that didn't have a high school education and they never were able to accomplish anything. They were just ordinary common laborers," he said. "I just thought there was just a little bit more in life than that. My sights were just a little bit higher than to go out and dig ditches."

Now this could-a-been ditch digger finally has the high school diploma he never got, doesn't need now but also doesn't mind having.

It came about after his wife, Myrtice, and their daughters saw a television report of an elderly man graduating with his grandson. They saw to it that Stevenson received a diploma from the Department of Education under a 2004 law that made it easier for veterans to get the credential if they left school to serve their country. Veterans have to show proof of service and school enrollment.

But the one he got from the state didn't mention his alma mater.

So Thursday evening, Stevenson joined about 60 other graduates from Pasco's adult education program. Some of them were teenagers who were a few credits short of graduating with their classes. Others were picking up a GED.

Gulf High principal Steve Knobl was on hand to personally bestow the diploma, medallion and lapel pin on Stevenson, who donned a cap and gown for the occasion.

"Everybody at the graduation has a special story. It always happens at graduation — stories of how they came about," said Thomas Brochu, assistant principal at Marchman Technical Education Center. "It's just an honor to award it to him."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

At 83, World War II vet Milton Stevenson picks up diploma from Gulf High in Pasco 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.