By Mike Bush
Potosi, MO (KSDK) - Even on graduation day, the Class of 2011 at Potosi High School is about to get one more lesson in history. Among the hundreds on hand for the ceremony is 89-year-old Frank Boyer.
"He's a very humble, grateful man who adored his family," says Frank Boyer Jr.
Boyer Sr. grew up on a farm in Tiff, Missouri about 65 miles south of St. Louis. The sixth of ten children had to forego his high school education to earn a living, so he joined the civilian conservation corps to build roads and bridges.
"They gave us $30 a month, $25 went home. I got to keep $5 out of my paycheck," he says.
When World War II broke out, he immediately enlisted.
"I was very proud to be in the United States Navy," he says.
Boyer was dispatched to the USS Welles, a Pacific Fleet destroyer with 230 men on board.
The Welles earned eight battle stars for engaging the enemy in epic battles including
Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Like many veterans, much of what he saw during the war, he preferred to keep locked up in the diary of his mind.
"It was very private for dad for all those years," says Boyer Jr.
When he came home, he married Rose Mary, the love of his life and raised two children. For years, he worked seven days a week at two jobs with one goal in mind.
"Dad particularly regretted that he didn't have the education that he would've liked," says Boyer Jr. "He wanted to make sure that we did."
"There was no doubt that I'd go to college and that my brother would go to college," says Carol McFarland, Boyer's daughter.
So a few months ago, when the family learned about a program sponsored by the Missouri Veterans Commission that provides high school diplomas to veterans who served in foreign wars, Frank Boyer Junior went into action.
"A lot of world war two veterans qualify for this and very deservingly so but dad's very special," says Boyer Jr. through tears.
Which brings us back to Potosi High School. With the school districts enthusiastic cooperation, after all the seniors received their diplomas, the true senior of the class was brought to the stage to get his. And though it was 61 years late, it seemed right on time.
"Dad never had the chance to be in the spotlight and we knew all the greatness he had done," says Boyer Jr.
"Row after row, the graduates thanked my father for his service," McFarland says.
The only thing missing on this night was Frank's beloved Rose who passed away in 2008.
"She would've been just so happy for him," says McFarland.
But her memory lifted his every step. The best of the best graduate with honors but for all those who were at Potosi High School on this night, among the moments that they will surely remember was the one senior who graduated with honor.