WWII Vet Finally Gets High School Diploma

Posted at: 08/23/2013 7:53 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- This weekend, Pacelli High School in Austin will mark its 100th anniversary and to celebrate they're welcoming back hundreds of alumni, but one in particular stands out above the rest.

Paul Rishavy dropped out of then Saint Augustine High School in 1944 when his family moved to the Twin Cities.

As a junior, Rishavy was just a year short of graduation, but his diploma would have to wait.

“Instead of going to my senior year in the twin cities, I enlisted in the air force,” Rishavy said.

Rishavy would spend the next few years as a bomber pilot stationed in Japan.

After the war, Rishavy moved back to the Twin Cities, started a family, and built a successful life, but he never got his high school diploma.

Until now.

On Saturday, almost 70 years after he should have graduated, Rishavy will be presented with an authentic diploma, exactly the same as his classmates received back in 1945.

“I was amazed,” Rishavy said. “I really didn't have any intention of coming here until that time and then they talked me into it."

For Rishavy, the diploma signifies a return to his roots, saying the feeling of being back is “Awesome. I can’t describe it.”

And he'll tell you, it's been a long time since he last walked the halls at Pacelli.

“When I came down I couldn't believe how much Austin had grown and expanded, it's just unbelievable,” Rishavy said. “I had a heck of a time finding my old house and I only lived about eight blocks from here."

And while he's happy to be recognized, Rishavy said he doesn't see graduate life being too much different than it is now.

“I’m just going to stay like I am,” Rishavy said. “Just retired and take life easy."