Local

Retired Houston couple goes back to college to finish degrees

Monday, April 29, 2013

A retired couple is showing that perseverance pays off. They started their college educations years ago. Now, they're going back to school at Lone Star College in Kingwood to finish their degrees.

To understand where Harold and Frances Gates are now, you need to understand where they've been. The couple has been married 51 years. That began in 1960 when they were both students at Sam Houston High School. On the night of their senior prom, Frances got an engagement ring.

"Of course I said yes, and it's been ever since," she said. "Been going steady ever since."

They both worked and raised a family. Now they're retired great-grandparents, and students once again.

"Probably for the self-satisfaction that I'll have a degree," Harold said.

On the advice of their daughter, they enrolled at Lone Star College. They each have a 4.0 grade point average, and they proudly wear their Phi Theta Kappa honor society pins.

"Oh, this was an honor when we received our invitations," Frances said. "I received mine first."

They are not Lone Star's first senior students, but they're considered overachievers by the school's counseling director, Kathy Adkins.

"Once they got into their classes, they found they were capable of doing this and far more, and I said, 'You know what? The sky's the limit,'" Adkins said. "In a sense, they hadn't given themselves enough credit."

They will be getting their associate's degrees next year -- a journey that began with wanting to learn how to set up a website. It impresses other students.

"You can be any age," student Nick Williams said. "School is school, so you can get your education and come back and be someone someday."

It's a new path for a couple that's been on a journey that's spanned a half century, and it's just beginning.

We asked them what's next after their degrees are hanging on the wall. Harold said, "Well, we'll wake up one morning and we'll find the next challenge."

Find Deborah on Facebook at ABC13DeborahWrigley or on Twitter at @wrigleyabc13
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