Never too late: Clyde man receives high school diploma 70 years later

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:18 PM EST
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CLYDE, Ohio (WTVG) - Vincent Golembiowski left Clyde High School in 1949 at 17-years-old to join the military, before he was able to graduate and receive his diploma.

“Back then, the war started to kick up in Korea,” Golembiowski said. “We had a choice. If we waited and graduated, we would have been inducted into the Army, but if we went ahead of time, we could pick what service we wanted.”

Golembiowski, now 88-years-old, chose to enlist in the Air Force and served for four years during the Korean War.

“I became a crew chief on the F-86, which is the first swept-wing fighter jet,” said Golembiowski. “I even had the opportunity to shake hands with Syngman Rhee, the former president of South Korea.”

When he came home, Golembiowski eventually landed a job with Whirlpool Corporation and went on to become the Deputy Sheriff for Sandusky County. But he never graduated from high school, something his family said always stuck with him.

This past Christmas his family surprised him with a gift that he has always wanted: a high school diploma.

The emotional moment, captured on video, as Golembiowski unwrapped the present in front of his family.

“You got to be kidding me,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Wow!”

“I know Vince’s family reached out to ask if there was a chance to honor him with a diploma, so we were very happy to do so,” said Joe Webb, principal at Clyde High School.

During a school board meeting Monday night, Golembiowski officially graduated from high school, with his grandkids there to see it happen.

“I had to be here, because how often do you get to see your grandfather get his diploma?” said Krista Hernandez, Golembiowski’s granddaughter.

“This is something that he talked about his whole life that he never got to graduate,” said his granddaughter, Britta Luebcke. “That impact this has had on him is awesome.”

“I didn’t sleep all night,” Golembiowski said with a smile. “I didn’t think this day would ever happen. Never, ever.”

At 88-years-old, Golembiowski says he hopes this inspires others to know it’s never too late in life to graduate from high school.

“Don’t ever give up,” he said. “If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

Golembiowski said he still keeps in touch with some of the students from Clyde High School’s graduating class of 1950.

He and his wife, Laurene, have been married for 67 years.

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