87-year-old graduates from college, 52 years later

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - When Martha Rhea Hartley graduated from Catawba College, she didn't care about walking across the stage to get her diploma. Instead, the most hard-earned piece of paper she ever got in her life, came in the mail.

"I just started thinking how hard it was to get it, to be graduated, and to see it come to me in a paste-board box," said Martha, "That bothered me my whole life."

Martha Hartley is now Martha Platt and things changed as she got older. She held several different teaching jobs and got another degree in pathology. She was wildly successful by anyone's measure, but there was still that one regret that hung over her like a tiny little rain cloud.

"I guess I just talked about it so much until they did something about it," Martha said about her niece. Debbie Garrigues talked to the right people at the college and arranged for her Aunt's dream to come true.

Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. Mrs. Martha Rhea Hartley Platt will don her cap and gown and walk across the stage at Catawba College, just like she was supposed to do 52 years ago.

"I think I'll just have a big old smile on my face like all the rest of them do. I might even throw my cap up in the air like they do."