World War II veteran awarded honorary high school diploma from St. Xavier

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-14 07:59:29-05

CINCINNATI -- Ninety-year-old Louis Schipper never earned his high school diploma. In 1943, as a 17-year-old boy, he convinced his mother to let him leave St. Xavier High School behind and fight in World War II.

"He was the only freshman in the classroom with calluses on his hands," recalled George Wood, a former classmate. “That farm boy knew how to do a day’s work."

By the time Schipper returned to Aurora, having served three years as a Navy Seabee, his former classmates had already celebrated their graduation. Schipper married, raised a family and worked as an electrician before retiring.

"Lou is next to a genius," said Wood. "He can do anything. He can."

But his wife, Dottie Schipper, thought her husband deserved one more honor. She wrote a letter to his former high school to tell St. Xavier his story: How he had given up his own education so that other Americans could continue to enjoy the rights and privileges of freedom. 

On Friday, her wish came true. Louis Schipper became an official member of St. Xavier’s graduating class of 1946, and he celebrated his belated graduation with family, friends and old classmates.

And a few jokes, according to his wife.

"He said, ‘What the hell do I need a diploma. I’m 90 years old,'" she said. "And then he said, ‘Do you want me to get a resume and go to work now?'"