Man to get BGHS diploma - 60 years late PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Saturday, 01 June 2013 08:44
Bowling Green High School graduate Richard Friess looks over the audience after receiving his diploma and joining the BGHS class of 1953 during a graduation ceremony for the class of 2013 at the Stroh Center. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Sixty years after it should have happened, Richard Friess has received his high school diploma.
Friess was the first graduate called up on stage at Bowling Green High School's commencement Friday.
"I just started thinking about it," Friess said about getting his diploma. "This started out to be a fabulous year for me. The only thing I haven't got is a high school diploma."
That wish came true Friday. PHOTO BLOG
Friess, now 80, would have been a member of the BGHS Class of 1953 - 60 years ago this summer. But as an 18-year-old sophomore, he decided to drop out in 1951 and enlist in the Air Force.
That was the time of the Korean War, but Friess wasn't shipped to that peninsula.
He started his tour in Tripoli, then spent some time in Texas, before being shipped back to Casablanca, in western Morocco, on the northwest corner of Africa.
"I got lucky," he stated. "I didn't have to go over there. I had a lot of friends who went who didn't come back.
"Several of my classmates went into service and didn't make it back."
He had to pause a moment before explaining why he enlisted.
"Just everything that was happening back then. I kind of felt it was my duty and I could help protect the people and help the people in the United States.
"Sixty years late, I'm going to receive my diploma," said Friess from his home in Oregon, Ohio.
Friess said he earned his GED while in the Air Force, and even earned a few college credits.
"He felt there's nothing more important than a high school diploma," said high school Principal Jeff Dever.
This "fabulous" year started with a surprise birthday party in January, then being blessed three times in three weeks in church, then in May being on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
"It was probably the most fabulous place I've ever been. I would advise everybody that can, that has a chance, to go."
Friess meets with classmates in Bowling Green once a month for lunch; he said usually between 16 and 18 attend.
He had a dozen family members there Friday, including his wife Carolyn. They have been married 57 years.
Members of the Class of 1953 also were in attendance.
His granddaughter suggested he get his diploma enlarged and put it on a wall.
He chuckled at that idea.
"It'll just be something I got and treasure."
Friess, while retired, still works at Schweizer Greenhouse in Oregon, "and whatever people want done."

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