Williston resident receives his high school diploma at age 74

By Jen Butson

A Williston resident has finally received his diploma more than 50 years after his senior year at Richmond’s now-defunct high school.

Ed Young, 74, was awarded the diploma in his former study hall — now the Richmond Town Center — during a recent meeting of that town’s Selectboard.
Young enlisted in the service when he was 18 and just a couple of months before he would have graduated high school. He said in hindsight that probably wasn’t the smartest decision.

“I was 18, what did I know back in those years?” he said.
He did earn a certificate of completion at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas, where he also trained as a medical corpsman.
Though his service in the U.S. Air Force and more than 33 years at United Technologies Inc. allowed Young to see many different parts of the world, he always knew where home was.

“I retired at 55 and I came back here for the quiet and to enjoy Lake Champlain,” he said.
George Bergin, Young’s longtime friend and former neighbor, helped facilitate the process of getting the diploma. “That’s what neighbors are for,” Bergin said.

Bergin served in the U.S. Navy for 28 years. Some of his service was during the same period Young was in the Air Force.

“We got to talking one day and it came up that Ed had joined the service during the Korean conflict, two months before he would have graduated high school,” Bergin said. “I know the kind of work that Ed did in the Air Force and felt that a guy who had risked his life deserved a diploma.”
Gail Conley, the retiring superintendent of Chittenden East Supervisory Union, agreed to help. With a bit of research, Conley found a diploma from Richmond High School, which closed in 1967, took it to a designer and had a replica made for Young. It was presented to him at a July 5 Richmond Selectboard meeting.
“I never even knew I was going to get a diploma,” Young said. “It was a top-secret surprise, though I think everyone in my whole family knew about it before I did.”
Young and his wife Carol live in Williston. Their four grown children were never told that their dad did not graduate from high school. But after Young received his diploma, family members from as far away as Hawaii sent their congratulations — belated but well-deserved.