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Northwest Missouri Man Earns GED at 85 Years Old

Bud Mutchler worked for decades before deciding that getting his high school equivalency could take priority.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Willard Wayne Mutchler has gone by the nickname "Bud" since he was a baby.

He grew up in northwest Missouri, and went to school at a one-room schoolhouse in Holt County.

Bud stopped going to school after the eighth grade.

"I did odd jobs, I carpentered, I drove trucks, and delivered freight for three years.  I went into the service.  I was in the Korean thing," Mutchler said.

After decades of hard labor, Bud wanted something else to do.

He decided to pursue his GED: testing his math and science, among other subjects.

"Since I married [my wife Daisy], all I have to do is a little yard work and a garden," Mutchler said.  "I take care of my car.  I had nothing to do in the winter, so I started doing this in order to have something to do."

So he enrolled in adult education at the Webster Center.

He took classes in Savannah and in St. Joseph; over about four years, he studied harder than he'd ever studied in his life.

Mutchler says he struggled most with the writing portion: "The first test, I probably gained a subject, then the next I gained two subjects, then one more subject.  Finally I had this English to conquer."

Betty Wymore, who leads the adult education program at Webster, says Bud is the oldest student she's ever seen at her school.

She and the whole staff cheered him on while he struggled to get better.

"He really worked at it," Wymore said.  "He knew that he could not pass that one section, but he stayed with it!"

She says Bud was already okay at math, and his reading skills were fine.

But it was a struggle to finally grasp the mechanics of writing.

"One of the things about adult ed is that we're going to find your learning style," Wymore said.  "We're going to find out how to put it in your memory bank.  That's important for people to know that everyone learns differently.  We're going to find out how to teach you."

But after four tries, he finally got a good enough essay to pass English - and a very important piece of paper came in the mail.

It proclaimed Willard Wayne Mutchler as a certified GED recipient.

He now encourages anyone who never graduated to do what he did, to "get with the program."

Wymore says it's never too late go back and get your high school equivalency.  And for anyone struggling to get that, she says if an 85 year old man can do it - anyone can do it.
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