87-year-old to get high school diplomaPublished 8:19pm Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Undoubtedly, William S. Myrkle will be the oldest graduate in a cap and gown at Dowagiac’s June 2 Commencement.
Myrkle, who turns 88 June 4, has been waiting 70 years for his diploma.
Myrkle expected to walk with the Class of 1943, but after meeting with the draft board during World War II, “The next thing I knew I was on my way to Detroit,” as well as Idaho, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and, eventually to the Mediterranean with the Navy.
He’s “not really sure” how he feels about belatedly marching to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
“A little nervous to tell the truth,” he said Wednesday.
“Many young men left for military service after completing all academic requirements, but prior to graduation,” according to his daughter, Mary, a schoolmate of retired superintendent Larry Crandall.
Union High School secretary Brenda Reagan customized his diploma with the June 3, 1943, date and signatures of Supt. James Lewis and school board President Roy Ward.
The 1943 Wahoo describes him as track man, a tow head and the “center” of interest on the football field.
“I was never beaten in the 440 until regionals,” the longtime Bangor resident said.
In fact, while in naval radio school, he earned a University of Wisconsin track letter.
“During the war any able-bodied person could go out for anything,” he said. “The whole thing was an adventure.”
Myrkle worked at Heddon’s, Bendix and Rudy’s, but spent much of his working life in law enforcement, retiring 20 years ago from the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division.
He is married to Sharon fathered four children and has many grandchildren.
With a small farm, he stays active mowing three acres and weekly trips to the golf course.
The 1943 annual reflects the pervasive war: “With our yearbook as a medium of contact, we wish to present the vital part that we, the youth of Dowagiac, are playing in this global war.”
It was dedicated to “The Americas … Indissoluble” and reached out to South America.
— Dowagiac Daily News