92-year-old realizes dream of receiving high school diploma

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 10:18 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka High School’s newest alum has a bit more life experience than your typical graduate.

Clarence Frost grew up in Topeka, extremely poor, and in an abusive home. He was forced to make it on his own at a young age.

“I had to leave school because I had to go to work,” he said. “Work, work, work from 13 years of age. I went to work at 13.”

Clarence held jobs, then served in the Marine Corps. Afterward, he worked as an auto mechanic, met his wife Shirley. They had two daughters and a son, and eventually moved to California, where he learned the plastering trade.

But he never forgot his teachers--

“I started out liking teachers in the fifth grade. Mrs. Welch - I remember her name, and she took me under her wing,” Clarence said.

Now 92 years old, and retired to an assisted living facility in Washington State, Clarence mentioned to one of his caregivers that he always regretted not finishing high school. His family reached out to Topeka High. They created a diploma - and a recent graduate sent along their cap, gown and tassel.

Last week, Clarence got decked out in the Trojans black and gold, and local veterans presented him his diploma.

“I was very proud of that,” Clarence said. “It brings tears to my eyes... because I had to go to work. Those were hard days.”

As for what he’d like to say to everyone who made the moment possible, Clarence responded, “There’s only one word. You can’t beat thank you!”

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