Leo Plass at 99 and in his youth. (KTVZ)

My grandmother followed a similar path. She dropped out of college before she was 20 to marry my grandfather, who told her a degree wasn’t necessary. More than 30 years later, when her children were almost grown, she went back. When my grandmother finally graduated, Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Arkansas, she did so on the same stage as her youngest daughter.

It’s a familiar story for a whole generation of people who grew up in the Great Depression or the years afterward. Plass had wanted to be a teacher, but his friend offered him a job in the logging industry, according to Oregon news station KTVZ, and the better pay in a time of economic troubles was too good to resist.

“He offered me $150 and it was during the Depression, that was a lot of money,” Plass said. A teaching salary was just $80 a month.

When Plass went back to Eastern Oregon University this year, he found he needed only three more credits to get his degree. My grandmother nearly needed to start over. But they both finished, in their own time.

“Never dreamed of something like this happening to me,” said Plass. “It's out of this world.”