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Malvern man receives honorary high school diploma at nearly 100-years-old



Malvern, Arkansas – A Malvern resident who is just two days away from turning 100 received one of the nicest surprises of his life—his high school graduation.

Havis Farrell Richardson was born in 1923, and as he approached his 100th birthday, his family shocked him by explaining to Malvern High School why he wasn’t able to receive his graduation.

According to Richardson’s family, the institution then gave him an honorary high school diploma.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was the biggest surprise I ever got in my life,” Richardson said.

Richardson claims that in 1940, he was 3 credits away from graduating from MHS when he was forced to make a difficult choice.

“We [his family] were struggling. It was during The Great Depression, we had no money. I had to make a decision rather to go back to school,” Richardson said.

Richardson claims that one of the reasons it was a challenging choice was because he had made so many academic achievements, like being the Junior Class President and being on the honor roll.

“I was a charter member of the junior honor society, which was impressive,” Havis said.

Richardson claims that he left high school prematurely in order to help support his family and his ten siblings. He claims that he obtained employment at a defense facility since it was close to the end of World War Two.

“When I got out there it was 55 cents an hour,” Richardson said.

Richardson continues by claiming that’s also where he fell in love and eventually began a family with his wife.

“Mostly I’m proud of our family and how all of them have turned out. I have about 15 grandkids and about 20 great grandkids,” Richardson said.

Richardson expresses his gratitude to his family for granting him a long-held desire.

Debbie Richardson Hobbs, one of his five daughters, claims that she was pleased to see her father earn his graduation all these years later since she knew it was something he had been working toward.

“I thought it was just a great honor that the school district did this for my dad,” Hobbs said.

Richardson expresses his gratitude to his family for granting him a long-held desire.

“I kind of regretted not having the diploma for 80 something years. I told people that they didn’t finish high school and didn’t have a diploma,” Richardson said.

Richardson addresses people seeking a diploma with his speech.

“I know how it is to tell people you haven’t finished high school it’s very important especially now days,” Richardson said.

According to Hobbs, she also contributed to a book about her father called “A Boy. A Story” which is currently for sale on Amazon under the author name Debbie Sue Richardson.

Richardson expresses his gratitude to the school for fulfilling his 100th request as well as to his family for their unwavering support.

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