- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

PULASKI, Va. (AP) Sixty-two years ago, Ned Bane, a football-playing fraternity brother at the University of Richmond, dropped everything to fight in World War II.
   
   Just a few credits short of graduating with a psychology degree, he never went back.
   
   On Sunday, Mr. Bane, 81, will finally get his degree an honorary one at the university’s main commencement ceremony. Inspired by his story, the university also will award degrees to 16 others who missed graduation because of the war. Diplomas will be mailed to about 40 more who could not attend the ceremony.
   
   Mr. Bane, Pulaski’s Parks and Recreation director for 20 years and owner of two minor-league baseball teams, succeeded in spite of his missing diploma. But he and his family never forgotten it.
   
   “That’s always been a void there. This will partially fill that void,” he said.
   
   Mr. Bane never made it to the war. He volunteered for the Army Air Force, and in December 1943 he received his orders and left school to become a pilot. His classmates graduated and the war raged in Europe and the Pacific, but Mr. Bane was stuck in the United States and in a frustrating situation.
   
   There were either too many pilots or not enough planes. He wasn’t needed as a pilot, so he trained to become a B-29 flight engineer, but the war was coming to an end before that worked out.
   
   “We actually wanted to go to combat. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have volunteered,” he said. “We wanted to go play in the game.”
   
   Mr. Bane couldn’t get back into the University of Richmond. He tried some other routes but eventually decided to go to work with his father in Pulaski, selling paint, wallpaper and carpet. Later he went to work for the town, starting its recreation program almost from scratch.
   
   He got married. Had children. Bought and managed property. Brought minor-league baseball to Pulaski in the 1960s with the Pulaski Phillies. Brought it back in the ‘80s with the Pulaski Braves. Moved away. Came back.
   
   The university decided that Mr. Bane should have a degree and began searching for others whose education had been interrupted.
   
   “Nice thing for them to do,” said Richard Fisher of Salem, who was on the university football team with Mr. Bane.
   
   As for Mr. Bane, he still wonders if he would have pursued a career as a physician had he graduated.
   
   “I don’t know,” he said. “I’d like to know, if there was some way you can look back and see.”

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