On Sunday, May 6, there was a graduation party on Robin Road. Friends, family and neighbors turned out to congratulate 83-year-old Bill Carr, who was awarded his masters degree in military history from Worcester State University.
When asked the hardest part of getting an education in his 80s, Carr didn’t hesitate for an answer.
“The hardest part was getting there,” he said. Carr is legally blind and no longer drives, so he had to depend on others to give him rides to and from classes. “I got rides from friends, the Knights of Columbus, my daughter and others.” He took one class each semester, earning the degree over six years, he said.
“I love education, and I love military history,” he told Westborough Patch. “I have an optical reader that the Lions Club got me. That’s how I was able to read the material.”
Carr, a veteran sergeant in the Marine Corp, recalled his childhood and listening to his father tell stories about World War I. “My dad had a stunt plane. People would come over to the house to hear him tell the stories.”
As a young man, Carr earned his undergraduate degree in forestry from the University of Massachusetts. His varied career included work as a forester, a logistics director for Apollo XI and employment at General Dynamics working on nuclear submarines.
As part of his degree, Carr wrote a 167-page thesis on military aviation in World War I, which he hopes to get published.
His future plans include starting a business. “I’m trying to start a business consulting — lifestyle and coaching,” he said. “My daughter is helping to make business cards, and she’ll get me on a website.”
The business idea is not foreign to the new graduate. Carr has been volunteering for nine years at a local nursing home, talking to people and cheering them up. “I work with the activities director. There’s always a lot to do,” he said.
Carr and his wife, Joan, have four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Despite his age, he said he has no plans to slow down. “I go to the gym three days a week. I can lift 160 pounds in my legs,” he said. “And I walk one-and-a-half miles each way to get there.”
Carr laughed a little when asked if he planned to get his doctorate. “I don’t know. I got my education [for my bachelor’s degree] for free through the GI bill, and I was able to go to Worcester State for free because I’m over 65,” he said. “I’d like to do it, if I could get it for free.”
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