WWII vet awarded high school diploma

Leon Williams, 89, of Springville receives his Elk Lake diploma Thursday night during the school board meeting. Williams, a WWII veteran, enlisted in the service his senior year and did not graduate with his class.

Leon Williams, 89, of Springville receives his Elk Lake diploma Thursday night during the school board meeting. Williams, a WWII veteran, enlisted in the service his senior year and did not graduate with his class.

BY PAT FARNELLI

A member of the Springville Class of ’43 couldn’t make it to his graduation ceremony. He was busy serving in the U.S. Army in World War II.

Now 71 years later, Leon Williams, 89, of Springville, has his high school diploma in hand.

The diploma was conferred upon Williams at the Elk Lake Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20.

Leon Williams of Springville with his Elk Lake diploma, awarded Thursday night during the school board meeting.

Leon Williams of Springville with his Elk Lake diploma, awarded Thursday night during the school board meeting.

Williams left school and went on to serve in the European Theater, including the invasion of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, that changed the course of the war.

“Now I can get a job,” Williams said after being awarded his diploma by Dr. Ken Cuomo.

Williams met his wife, Mary, just after being discharged from the service, at a social gathering, to which he arrived in uniform. He asked her for a date, which she refused, but then she changed her mind a day or two later and said she would go with him.

He has lived in the Springville area ever since, first working in a local stoneyard, then for Bendix in South Montrose for 25 years.

A group of family members attended the board meeting to witness the occasion, including his wife, Mary H. Williams; Elk Lake fifth grade teacher Gloria Williams, Leon’s daughter-in-law, and her husband – his son, Randy Williams; Leon’s daughter, Candy Wells and her husband Jerry Wells; and his granddaughter Lacey DiGirolamo.