CUYAHOGA FALLS (WJW) — It was a moment 80 years in the making.
Libert Bozzelli, 97, walked across the stage at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls to receive his 1942 high school diploma Tuesday night.
“I think it’s great. I wish my wife was here. But it’s a great thing that I have this opportunity to get more education,” Bozzelli said.
His graduation comes just one week after the death of his wife, Madeline.
“Seventy-five years, can you imagine that? Plus, a few years before that. We lived a hell of a life,” Bozzelli said.
That life was recognized in a standing ovation as Bozzelli walked across the stage with his great-grandson, who is also graduating from Cuyahoga Falls High, and his grandson, who is a teacher at the school.
“He was in school when the war was raging. He felt the call of duty. He came back and established himself,” said Brent Hovey, grandson.
Bozzelli served in WWII when he was 17. Then he came back to Cuyahoga Falls, married his sweetheart Madeline, and went on to have four kids, six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
“Ninety-seven years old, and to still have milestones and teach us that it’s never too late to do what you want to do. My grandparents are wonderful people,” said Lauren Hovey, granddaughter.
Bozzelli gave back to the community in various capacities. At one time, he served as a city councilman, served on different boards, and gave back to multiple charities. But there was one thing he never did that he always wanted to do: graduate high school.
“It’s not an honorary diploma. He took some tests in the past month and earned it,” said Hovey.
After a decades-long wait, Bozzelli is now the 16th member in his family to graduate from the high school.
“I’m happy for people to get more education. There is never too much time for education, I’ll tell you,” Bozzelli said.