Louisville man, 84, receives college degree 50 years later
By Chris Turner, WDRB-TV Fox 41 News
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB-TV Fox 41) -- Ten days ago, a museum security guard never thought he'd be a college graduate.
A chance meeting last week led to his receiving an overdue diploma Wednesday night.
Bob Striebich attended Bellarmine University when it was a still-new Bellarmine College.
He was set to graduate as part of the class of 1960.
But he had trouble in Spanish class.
And 50 years later, a hello and small talk with just the right person changed all that.
Of the 209 graduates in the Bellarmine University winter Class of 2010, 84-year-old Bob Striebich has had the longest walk -- and the longest wait for his degree.
"I just hope they look as young as I do," Striebich said of his fellow graduates in line.
It's 50 years after he says he should have received a bachelors' degrees in sociology, and 63 years after he started his higher education after military service in the 1940s.
Striebich received a standing ovation as he crossed the Knights Hall stage to receive his diploma from University President Joseph McGowan and his boss from the African-American Heritage Museum, Rita Phillips.
It was a chance meeting with McGowan at the museum Dec. 6 that led to this moment of a lifetime.
"(I told him) Senor White gave me an 'F' in Spanish, and I wasn't able to graduate," Striebich said.
McGowan listened and unknown to Striebich, he asked his staff to research the academic records.
He returned to see Striebich last Friday.
"I said, 'Sit down, Bob.' We sat down. I said, 'You're going to be a graduating member of the class of 2010.' I said, 'We've awarded your diploma and can you come to commencement on Wednesday?' He filled up. And his response was just beautiful," McGowan said.
Striebich described that emotional moment. He said he cries easily.
"He said, 'I've got good news. You're going to graduate.' Of course, I'm very sentimental and all. You know how tears come to your eyes and everything. I'm getting ready to cry at that time and all. It's an amazing happening and all, and I was delighted and all."
Delighted enough to invite his daughter and plenty of friends to watch his graduation.
Bob Striebich stood up with pride -- and maybe a couple of tears.
"I had to pinch myself to see if it was really true and all. It was a long time in coming."
Striebich still is an insurance agent in Louisville in addition to his work at the museum.
He has been an honored guest on campus.
He's even received a dining hall pass for free meals and fellowship all week.
Striebich's daughter, Sally, is a nursing student at Bellarmine.