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At long last, 1945 grad gets high school diploma
At long last, 1945 grad gets high school diploma
Posted on 09/02/2015

While seven decades have passed since he last attended Puyallup High, Edward LaCrosse finally received his high school diploma on June 3 during the Class of 2015 Senior Awards Night.


Mike Egan, director of global corporate affairs at Microsoft and a Puyallup High graduate, introduced the 88-year-old LaCrosse and shared about his life since high school.


“He is a Viking who sat in these very chairs some years ago,” Egan said.


Donned in a Puyallup High graduation gown and hat, the 1945 graduate flashed a big smile as he walked on stage, his purple and gold cap tassel swinging, to receive his diploma.


As more than a dozen of his family members cheered, the longtime Viking approached the podium to thank the school and the district for the honor. He also told students to keep their career options open. “You never know what opportunities may arise,” he said.


 LaCrosse left Puyallup High School in March 1944 at age 17 to join the Navy. While working on a Navy ship several years later, the then 20-year-old contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized in California and Washington state.


During his hospital stay, LaCrosse took classes to complete his high school graduation requirements; however, when he returned to Puyallup High, he was told by the principal that he was still one quarter short of English credit requirements.


Determined to get his high school diploma, LaCrosse passed an entrance exam and enrolled in Olympic Junior College in Bremerton, where he took college English and German foreign language. After completing the classes, he returned to Puyallup High and paid $10 for his diploma; however, it never arrived in the mail.


LaCrosse continued his education anyway, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at University of Washington, a master’s degree in special education at Western Washington College of Education, and a doctorate in special education from Teachers College, Columbia University.


He went on to teach and serve as an administrator at a number of schools and universities, including Newark State College, Long Beach State College, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of South Dakota.


LaCrosse also served as an education consultant for a long list of organizations and committees, including the U.S. Office of Education Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, the National Association for Retarded Children, and the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation.


“It feels wonderful to finally have my high school diploma in hand,” said LaCrosse, who lives with his wife, Helen, in Des Moines, Wash. “It was a very nice thing for Puyallup High School and Mike Egan to do.”