Grace Lee McClure Smith dropped out of school at the age of 16 for her husband.
Grace Lee McClure Smith from Alabama accomplished her dream after years of waiting patiently for it. According to People, the 94-year-old pensioner from Madison County finally received her high school diploma during a graduation ceremony at Hazel Green High School after 79 years of waiting for the joyous day.
"I am so grateful, thank you so much. It's better late than never, isn't it," said Grace after she celebrated her accomplishment in front of her family members and friends.
Grace dropped out of school in 1942 at the age of 16 for her husband, who went to fight in World War II. Though she never looked back at the decisions she made, deep within she always wanted to finish high school. When her granddaughter, Erin Wilson, realized what her grandmother had given up, she decided to take matters into her hands.
She surprised her dearest grandmother with her honorary degree.
"She never ever mentioned regretting anything in life. She would never take it back because she absolutely loved my grandfather and that was just what she wanted to do, but I think this was very important to her," said Erin, according to WAAYTV.
Prior to retirement, Grace worked as a bus driver for the Madison County School system for years.
"She came back and for more than 30 years, she drove a school bus in Madison County, she served our students and got them safely to school and safely home for 30 years," said Tim Hall, a school official, to WHNT.
Though it has been years, the pensioner still remembers most of the people she drove home. Her granddaughter claimed that her grandmother could recognize the people she drove around from their addresses.
"She'll say, 'I can't remember exactly who you were, go ahead and tell me where you lived.' So they'll give the address and she'll say 'oh yeah, I remember you,' and then she'll start with stories," said Erin.
Despite not being able to complete school, Grace never looked down on education. Rather, she encouraged her children and grandchildren to study and achieve their goals.
"Growing up when I was in school, I actually rode her bus to and from school. She was a role model for a lot of kids and she's always telling the stories," said Erin, a teacher at Legacy Elementary School.
She added, "And she always encouraged me to go to school, make sure I finish school, and now she encourages my girls," said Erin.
Grace's family is extremely proud of her and they have nothing but words of appreciation for Grace, who made it a point to instill the importance of education in their minds.
Meanwhile, the school congratulated Grace through their Facebook Page along with a picture of the pensioner in her cap and gown. Responding to all the good words, Grace humbly stated, "I feel like I don't deserve it. There's a lot more people that are much more deserving than me. I'm just doing my job, love it. I love most of it most of the time. Good times!"
Cover Image Source: WKYC Youtube Screen shoot