Treasure Chest Thursday: My 60 year-old Grandparents earn their GEDs

My maternal grandparents, Alonzo and Louise Walton featured in a New Jersey newspaper after graduating High School in their 60s.

When my maternal grandparents were in their 60s, they decided to go back to school to get their GEDs. Alonzo Walton and Louise Coleman Walton both grew up on farms around the turn of the century.  The Waltons owned theirs, and the Colemans were sharecroppers.  Like a lot of farming/sharecropping children, their hands were needed to work the land more than to do math equations in school. Alonzo in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and Louise in Clinton, Oklahoma both quit school around sixth or seventh grade to help their families survive.

But their thirst for learning didn’t end there.  So, when my grandfather retired from the Air Force after about 40 years of service and all of their grandchildren but me were attending college, they enrolled in PembertonTownship’s Adult Evening High School Program in New Jersey. It took them two tries to pass the final exam.  But pass they did and in 1980 they received their GEDs.

The above photo is from a story in Pemberton’s “Time Advertiser” newspaper featuring the Waltons, the only grandparents enrolled at Burlington County College. After the article came out, the newspaper sent my grandparents the black and white photo they used and my grandparents framed it and hung it on the wall.  I’d stare at that photo and read the article tacked under it every time I went to their house.  It was a constant reminder that the education I was receiving as a right, my grandparents treasured as a privilege. The value of education is probably the biggest lesson I learned from my grandparents without them ever having to say a word.



Filed under Abraham Lincoln, African-American history, family history, Ford, mulatto, Multiracial families

7 responses to “Treasure Chest Thursday: My 60 year-old Grandparents earn their GEDs

  1. What a satisfying thing for your grandparents,attaining their own long-held dreams but also seeing their grandchildren’s horizons opening up, too. Beautiful tribute.

  2. How awesome to have such a treasure! What a wonderful piece of family history. : – )

  3. GREAT story! Congratulations to the both of them.

  4. An amazing tribute to education! And how wonderful to have this photo/newspaper clip too!

  5. brian mclaughlin

    three words, “knowledge is power”.

  6. That’s a great story, Dionne, and a wonderful tribute to the power and value that the “gift” of an education had in the lives of those who came before us. 🙂


  7. That took a lot of courage and determination.

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