Seven decades in the making, Cincinnati man to earn college degree

Seven decades in the making, Cincinnati man to earn college degree

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - About 800 Muskies will walk down the aisle and receive their diploma in ten days.

While they all have their own stories, one student in particular is sure to stand out in the crowd. Walter Bunker has seen and done a lot in his lifetime.

Who wouldn't at 90-years-old?

He's a World War II veteran who is earning a degree seven decades in the making. Next weekend, lifelong dream will come true.

In June 1944, Walter Bunker was fighting overseas during World War II.

"I did not qualify to be a pilot.  I decided to try to become a navigator, bombardier," Bunker says.

Before enlisting, he spent a year in school on a scholarship playing the violin. Once he was honorably discharged, Bunker tried college again before starting to work with his uncle.

"I felt a little embarrassed that I could never say I had a degree," he admits. "I was further put down by all my kids talking about all the degrees they had."

That's when he visited Xavier's Office of the Registrar.

"She said, I'll tell you, Walter, I'll send away and get all your transcripts. I wondered if they had kept them for 70 years," says Bunker

As it turns out, they did keep those.

"She called me in a week and said, 'Walter, you're very close to earning a degree. You only need two credits.'"

Bunker has never stopped learning. He has a long background in things like real estate, teaching and writing. That writing has earned him a liberal arts degree after sharing two stories with a professor.

"He called me and said, 'Walter, you can start sending out invitations to your graduation'"

When he does that, Bunker will have some company.

A veteran of the War in Iraq, albeit 60 years younger, will escort him.

"This is going to be one of the biggest honors of my life, to take a man of his caliber and help him graduate, and something that means a lot to him," says Ryan Hoefer.

In the time it took to get this degree, Bunker's life has been full of joyous moments. He has 10 children, 21 grandchildren and the love of his life Martha for the last 65 years.

"It's sort of the culmination of my life," says Bunker.

Hoefer and bunker only met yesterday. Hoefer will also get a degree next week.

In 90 years you can imagine the stories Bunker has to tell. You can view the full interview here:

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