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Utah woman receives High School diploma at 92-years-old after decades of service, raising 17 kids

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 12:42:52-04

A 92-year-old Utah woman received a surprise gift Wednesday, nearly 76 years late.

Barbara Stanley has made the news a few times in her life for not only having a baby on the same date as one of her daughters but also for having 17 kids.

“We had fun, what else do you want to know?” said Stanley.

Eight boys and nine girls — with her boys, Stanley said they had enough for their own recreational team.

“My husband bought them uniforms,” said Stanley.

She met her husband when Stanley was 23 years old and had no intention to have a big family. Instead, Stanley wanted to teach physical education.

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Born during The Great Depression, Stanley said she grew up helping her sisters out with their kids.

“I guess that’s why I never thought about having some on my own because I was tired of tending,” said Stanley.

When asked why 17 kids, Stanley responded with a laugh “it just happened.”

In all she accomplished, there was one thing Stanley never received — her high school diploma.

It was the late 1940’s when Stanley left high school to help her sister who’s husband went to war.

That reality surprised Stanley’s granddaughter, Sheri McFarland.

“I kept thinking if that’s something she regrets, why can’t we just make that not a regret anymore,” said McFarland.

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Stanley had attended West High School when she dropped out, so McFarland reached out to administrators to see if they could pull off something special.

“It was extraordinary the circumstances she was in and why she had to leave school,” said Jared Wright, the West High School principal.

Wright said many students dropped out during World War I and again in the 1940s to join the Navy and other organizations, helping the Nation.

Knowing what Stanley sacrificed, Wright met with his administration to talk about what they could do for the 92-year-old.

“Once a panther always a panther,” said Wright.

After a few months, McFarland was surprised to find a diploma in her mailbox.

“I opened it and cried,” said McFarland.

Nearly 76 years later, McFarland awarded Stanley her diploma — graduated class of 2021.

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“Oh my goodness, it’s gorgeous,” said Stanley. “Now can you take me to the prom? I never had a prom dance!”

Stanley watched all of her 17 kids flip their graduation cap tassels, and now it was her turn.

“At the time it didn’t mean anything to me, but now it does,” said Stanley.

All of Stanley’s kids but one, live in the Beehive State. Her youngest son lives in Arizona.