BEND, Ore. — An Oregon man who dropped out of college just short of graduation in 1932 has earned his degree at age 99.
Leo Plass received his associates degree a few days ago from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. The university decided to accept his career in carpentry (which included pit stops picking tomatoes and running a gas station), instead of extra class credits.
"Never dreamed of something like this happening to me," Plass told Ktvz.com. "It's out of this world."
In 1932, Eastern Oregon University was called Eastern Oregon Normal School. Plass was studying to be a teacher there. But, just couple credits shy of graduation, Plass' bank failed and a teaching salary of $80 a month wouldn't cut it. So when a friend offered him a spot in a logging outfit at $150 a month, Plass says he couldn't pass it up.
"He offered me $150, and it was the Great Depression," Plass said. "That was a lot of money - a lot of money."
However, at the time, Plass didn't quite realize at the time how close he was to actually graduating.
They told me I just had three hours to go," Plass said "I said, 'Gee, too bad you didn't tell me that then – I would have stayed there all night'."
Still, Plass does not regret leaving his teaching degree. In fact, he worries for the practical future of recent graduates.
"They don't teach youngsters things they need to know about," he said. "When I was in school, that's about all they did teach. You learned how to cook, you learned how to sew and how to type."