Man graduates Fordham 66 years after freshman year

FORDHAM, Bronx (WABC) -- One of the great lessons of life is that you're never too old to learn, words that ring especially true for one graduate of Fordham University.

John Lenehan, now 88, is no stranger to Fordham. He started college there in 1956.

Most students don their cap and gown for pomp and circumstance after four or maybe five years. But in this case, well, he took his time.

Lenehan, a veteran of the Korean War, intended to finish college. But had to quit when he got a good job out of town.

"I was short 28 credits," he said.

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John Lenehan has some unfinished business to take care of at Fordham University. He is ready to address something he started 65 years ago but never finished.


Still, he had a successful career and a beautiful family, but there was just something missing. One morning, at 86 years old, he made an announcement to his wife.

"'I'm going back to Fordham,'" Lillian Lenehan remembered him saying. "OK. What a good idea."

So Lenehan asked the school if he could come back.

On Friday, Lenehan rang the bell at a ceremony for veterans graduating this year, all a bit younger. And on Saturday, he finally gets his diploma.

"It's never too late," he said.

That need to tidy up lose ends, to honor the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, is just hard wired in some. Just a few years ago, six years ago to the day, in fact, Eyewitness News anchor Bill Ritter, who was kicked out of a Southern California university because of an anti war protest in 1972, his passion as big as his hair, got his college degree.

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David Jevotovsky, a graduate of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, overcame major obstacles to accept his diploma following a bike crash that left him in a coma.


His family was there that day, and Lenehan's will be there Saturday. There's a lot to celebrate.

"It took 65 years, but I finally get it tomorrow," he said.

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