63 years ago, the Korean War came between a Northern Illinois University graduate and his cap and gown. Now, he’s back on campus to make the long-delayed march with his fellow grads.
In May of 1953, Gus Trantham’s parents took a train from Chicago to DeKalb to accept his diploma in a ceremony he couldn’t attend. Trantham was in the Navy by then, behind enemy lines in Korea.
That’s where he made himself a promise: he would return to NIU some day, don a cap and gown, and pick up his bachelors in physical education himself. That’s what the 85-year-old is doing this weekend, all the way from South Carolina, with 25 family members, and his dog Henri, cheering him on.
Trantham has had a long career in business and international travel. He wants his fellow graduates to know that their education is just the beginning. He says he planned to be a football coach, but that didn't happen. Instead, he has spent his whole life learning.
NIU president Doug Baker will tell Trantham’s story, then deliver that long-awaited piece of paper during College of Education graduation ceremonies.