SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — When Lester Woods dropped out of Shawnee High School before reaching the 11th grade to enlist in the Army in 1946, he gave up on ever graduating.
“It was not a good decision but I had some personal problems that I just wasn’t handling so I left school. I was 18 at the time and I was already 1-A for the draft so I probably could have gotten a deferment since I was still in school but with my personal problem I just left and went to the military,” said Woods.
Woods served in the Army and was stationed in Germany.
After serving our country Woods became a successful businessman. At Artex Hobby Products Inc. in Lima, he started out on the ground floor spending 20 years there and rose to become a company vice president, even without a high school diploma.
Thanks to a statewide program, veterans like Woods could receive honorary diplomas.
“I found out the state of Ohio, for any veteran that served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam that quit high school to join the service, that the state of Ohio was giving them an honorary high school diploma,” said Tom Vernon, Lester’s nephew.
Woods, now 91, received his diploma at last week’s Shawnee school board meeting.
“I knew I didn’t finish school and those that went through each grade deserved the diploma. I did not, and I felt a little bit of shame about receiving it. In talking with Tom that it was available and I sure was missing it, I agreed to do it,” said Woods.
Woods sacrificed many career opportunities to serve our country.
“I’ve often wondered just what I could have accomplished if I would have gotten a good education. People with the diploma, whether it’s from high school or college, they’re the ones that wind up with the best employment and I missed out on it,” said Woods.
In October, Woods and his son Paul traveled to the nation’s capital as part of Honor Flight.
Each member of the Shawnee High School band wrote a personal thank you letter to Woods and his son Paul.
“I want to be absolutely sure that the staff at Shawnee High School and the students in the band are honored for all they’ve done for me,” added Woods.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.