A 50-year gap in his higher education didn't stop Clarence Garrett.

After returning to college in spring of 2006 as a full-time student, Garrett completed course work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was awarded his bachelor's degree at commencement ceremonies Sunday — at the age of 87.

"We are not sure if Clarence Garrett is the oldest to ever graduate from UWM, but we do know that there had not been a graduate for some time who was born when the president was Woodrow Wilson," Chancellor Carlos Santiago said.

On hand were Garrett's wife, Mary, his children and grandchildren.

He was chosen to lead the graduates from the College of Letters and Science into the U.S. Cellular Arena, and he earned a standing ovation when awarded his degree.

The Baltimore native served as a civilian at a U.S. Navy facility in Virginia before World War II. Once the war began, Garrett, who is black, served with the segregated Army in Europe.

He later settled in Milwaukee and took courses at the college that later became UWM, but he gave up college to raise a family.

"After all my children went to college ... I said, 'Why shouldn't I?"' Garrett said. "And I have loved it ever since."