Pace receives diploma 68 years late

Published 9:09 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ronette Dill, Saluda School principal (left); Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller; Calvin Pace and Polk County Board of Education Chair Geoffrey Tennant. (photo submitted)

In January 1943, Calvin Pace had all but completed his senior year at Saluda High School.
But on Jan. 5 of that year his teenage dream of walking across a stage to receive his diploma was interrupted.
“I was one of the first of the 18-year-olds to be drafted from Saluda as far as I know,” Pace said. “I wanted to actually walk across the stage and do it like the rest, but I was in service and they wouldn’t let you go for nothing.”
Uncle Sam did send him around the world though, Pace said.
He found himself in Fort Collins, Colo., in May of 1943. While he was training, his fellow classmates in Saluda were receiving diplomas and preparing to go to work or college.
Pace said he did not see combat, but from the base he was stationed at in Burma, he could watch as fighter pilots took off on their way to drop bombs on the enemies.
Pace remained in the Air Force until January 1945. When he returned home, he went to work for Duke Power for 32 years before retiring.
Pace said it feels good to have official documentation of his graduation from high school.
“I thought about it a lot, but that’s all it was – just thoughts. But this gal [Joyce Coggins] worked real hard to get all of this together,” Pace said. “And I appreciate her for that.”
On Monday, Aug. 15, Autumn Care activity director Joyce Coggins invited Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller to come out and present Pace with a diploma.
“When he told us the story about not getting to walk across the stage we just had to do something about it,” Coggins said.
Miller said they wanted Pace to enjoy the accomplishment in as true fashion as possible.
“We couldn’t find a real diploma from that time period,” Miller said, “but we had something befitting the occasion.”
The group even made sure Pace had a cap and gown to wear for this special occasion.

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