It was the 1940s and, like many other college students, Walter Bunker was not entirely sure of what kind of future he ultimately wanted for himself. Bunker was attending Cincinnati’s Xavier University on a violin scholarship, but the idea of graduating made him even more unsure of his future.
“So I decided to put it off for a little bit,” Bunker recalls. “And that became 70 years.”
In the seven decades since he dropped out, the man kept himself busy: from flying as a bombardier in World War II and working in real estate to surviving lung cancer and seeing his children and one grandchild attend Xavier. Inspired by his family’s example, he made the decision to finish what he’d started all those years ago.
After meeting with the college, he’d discovered that the credits from his Air Force career left him only two mere credits shy of graduating. As a lifelong writer, he shared two stories he’d written with a Xavier literature professor, and just like that, he’d earned his cap and gown.
Escorted by his fellow graduate Ryan Hoefer, a vet of the Iraq war, Bunker finally graduated from Xavier with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree on Saturday.
“This is the culmination of my life,” Bunker told reporters after the ceremony. He also thanked his wife, who stuck by him through “thick and thin – mostly thick” and praised Hoefer’s “arms of steel” for getting him through the ceremony.
There is only one downside, according to Bunker: “Now I guess I’ll have to go out and start looking for a job,” he joked.
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