A Dubuque woman is celebrating this week after getting her GED, which was a goal 71 years in the making.
Surrounded by photographs in her Dubuque home of a loving husband and successful descendants, 85-year-old Lois Houselog can say she has led a good life.
However, one thing has always stuck in her mind.
"I only graduated from eighth grade," Houselog said in her home Wednesday afternoon. "I never went to high school at all."
After finishing eighth grade in a one-room Dubuque County schoolhouse in 1941, Houselog started working instead of continuing her education.
"At that time, there were no school buses," Houselog said. "When I graduated from eighth grade, I was, like, seven miles from a high school, and, you know, in the early 40s, there were a lot of kids that did not go to high school."
With her husband Norbert "Butch" Houselog deceased 10 years now and her children long out of the house, Lois Houselog decided to get her GED.
"It's really exciting for me because it's something I always wanted to do and never really felt like I had the time," Houselog said. "When I made up my mind to do it, I did it quite fast."
Two months later, after daily classes, Houselog accomplished her goal. She walked across the stage at Northeast Iowa Community College's Dubuque campus and accepted her diploma Wednesday night.
"We had an elderly gentlemen in his early 80s about 20 years ago, but we've never had an 85 year old before, so it's just a delight to have Lois with us," NICC's lead GED instructor Laurie Anderson said.
"She's finally doing something for herself," Houselog's niece said." She has taken care of everybody: aunts and uncles and neighbors."
"I hope that people would be inspired by my story because so many people that are younger that could really use it," Houselog said, adding, "really, I don't need it, but it's something I wanted."
It's something she didn't take for granted.
Houselog said the hardest part about getting her GED was math, since she had never taken algebra or geometry prior to her GED courses.
Lois Houselog has two children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was born in Jackson County but moved to Dubuque County when she was a kid. She and her husband married when she was 20 years old. He died on their 55th wedding anniversary of complications following a major stroke.
Houselog said she doesn't yet know what's next on her bucket list now that she's attained her GED, but she's sure she'll think of something soon.
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