Woman, 100, graduates on deathbed
Published 27/01/2010 | 06:18
A US woman finally achieved her ambition of graduating from college - the day before she died and nearly three weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday.
Harriet Richardson Ames died on Saturday, the day after receiving her diploma at her bedside in Concord, New Hampshire.
The retired schoolteacher died pleased that she had accomplished her goal, her daughter Marjorie Carpenter said. Ms Ames had been in hospice care.
Ms Ames, who turned 100 on January 2, had earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931 at Keene Normal School, now Keene State College. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in South Newbury and later spent 20 years as a teaching principal at Memorial School in Pittsfield, where she taught first-graders.
Through the years, she had taken classes to earn credits for her degree. With her eyesight failing, she stopped after retiring in 1971 and was never sure if she had enough credits.
Her wish for a degree became known when a Keene State film professor interviewed her a couple of years ago for a piece on the college's own centennial, which the school celebrated last year.
The school decided to research her coursework and see if it could award Ms Ames her long-sought diploma. The offices of the provost, registrar and other departments worked quickly in the last month to determine that it could.
"She wanted to be the best that she could be," said Norma Walker, co-ordinator of the Keene State College Golden Circle Society, an alumni group for classes that graduated 50 or more years ago.
Ms Walker said when she mentioned to Ms Ames during a recent visit that the college was working on the degree, Ms Ames started to cry and said: "If I die tomorrow, I'll know I'll die happy, because my degree's in the works."
College officials, including Ms Walker, drove the document to Ms Ames' bedside on Friday.