CACHE, Okla. – Almost 90 years after he left school early to help support his family, Ed Daubenspeck received his diploma from Cache High School.
The 99-year-old Cache resident was surrounded by family and well-wishers Friday as he was honored during an assembly at the southwest Oklahoma town's multipurpose center.
"I feel kind of like I'm floating," said Daubenspeck, who graduated from the eighth grade in 1919 and then went to work to help support his family, including 16 brothers and sisters, following the death of his father.
A broad smile crossed Daubenspeck's face as high school principal Gary Michael introduced the one-man graduating class and presented him with the diploma.
"This is something special for Ed and for our students," said sixth-grade teacher Nolan Watson. "Today is indeed a special day. He is living history; it's an honor to be here honoring him."
The middle school student body joined Daubenspeck's family and friends in celebrating his life, which has spanned the state's history.
Student Jordan Davis said Daubenspeck's story emphasized the importance of learning.
"Over the course of his lifetime, many things have changed, but education is the one thing that remains," she said.
Watson addressed the assembled audience with a brief synopsis of Daubenspeck's story, woven through the nation's timeline -- through the Great Depression and World War II; from the time of horse and buggy and outdoor plumbing to the modern day.
"He is a member of one of the greatest generations the world has ever known," Watson said.
Watson, who also is the town's mayor, also announced that he'd proclaimed Daubenspeck a distinguished citizen of Cache.
"It's wonderful that they're honoring him today," said Daubenspeck's niece, Sylvia Rhea. "This has been lovely."