- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Two veterans from the Grand Rapids area finally received their high school diplomas six or more decades after dropping out to enlist in the military.

Richard Dengate, 77, and Albert Steenwyk, 84, both got their diplomas in the past week, The Grand Rapids Press (https://bit.ly/1F7VhNV ) reported.

Dengate, a retired teacher who taught at the college and high school level, left school in 1954 to enlist in join the U.S. Air Force and serve in Korea after the combat portion of the war was over. The Rochester Hills resident wrote three months ago to the principal at West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids about getting his diploma.

“It was the one thing I lacked all these years that I wanted because all of my family graduated from West Catholic,” he said.

Dengate, who received his GED while in the military and eventually earned two degrees, was among 117 graduates to receive diplomas from the high school on May 20.

Steenwyk finished eighth grade in Hudsonville and got his GED diploma in 1951 while stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station, he said.

Steenwyk, a Navy diver who served in the Korean War, wrote last July to Hudsonville Superintendent Nicholas Ceglarek about graduating in the May 21 ceremony. Ceglarek determined that Steenwyk had the credits necessary at the time to graduate.

At the ceremony last Thursday, Steenwyk received his diploma and shared words of wisdom with his fellow graduates of Hudsonville High School.

“I told them that work is something you should enjoy, so find something that you enjoy doing and look forward to doing every day,” Steenwyk said.

Steenwyk has a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and an MBA. He now lives in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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