In 1932, Margaret Thome Bekema was forced to drop out of high school to care for her family. Her mother was sick with cancer and her siblings needed someone to look after them. This week, 79 years after she was supposed to graduate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central High awarded her an honorary diploma.
Bekema was moved to tears by the gesture and thankful to finish what she started so long ago.
"I had to quit school to take over the family," Bekema said. "It was hard...I loved high school."
Greg Dega, the principal of the school, had nothing but kind words to describe Bekema.
"Her life has been one of sacrifice and service," he said. "It has been so encouraging and inspiring for our community because her choices represent all the core values that we teach our students."