World War II veteran receives diploma from Albert Gallatin

World War II veteran Louis Watkins Davis received his Albert Gallatin Area High School diploma during a private ceremony Wednesday. Standing behind Watkins, from left to right, are Dr. Eric Witt, high school principal; Ryan Porupski, chairman of the district school board; and District Superintendent Christopher Pegg.

At age 96, Louis Watkins Davis of Masontown has lived a full life.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, opened a small coal mine in Ronco, married the love of his life and was the father of five, grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of twelve.

But among his many life experiences, there was one he missed: his high school diploma.

On Wednesday, with his loving and extended family by his side, that changed during a private commencement ceremony at Albert Gallatin Area High School.

Davis did not receive his diploma because he left high school after his freshman year to follow his older brother Robert into the military. In the Navy, Davis served at NTS Great Lakes, Illinois; Beach Battalion “F” ATB Oceanside, California; Beach Battalion “B” ATB Oceanside; USS North Carolina and USS Philadelphia. While on the USS North Carolina, he served as a signalman.

Davis said he has no regrets about leaving high school to join the military and was honored to receive his diploma — even though his graduation came nearly 80 years later.

“This is a lot of fun,” Davis said. “I really like that they put the time into it and I’m really proud that I was able to (do) what I did.”

The idea to present Davis with his diploma came after AG school board chairman Ryan Porupski met Davis when his daughter took him to the polls for the primary. After hearing his story, Porupski knew this had to change.

Superintendent Christopher Pegg agreed.

“It’s a great honor for us to be able to do this,” said Pegg.

After the ceremony, school officials, Davis and his family headed down the hall to visit the school’s Hall of Honor, which features photos of Albert Gallatin graduates who served their country. They unveiled the latest addition: a photo of Davis dressed in his uniform.

Everyone present had just one question for Davis. “Where are you going to study?”

His daughter Carolyn Balsega had the answer.

“He always told us he went to Whyel College of Technical Knowledge because he grew up on Whyel Avenue in Uniontown,” Balsega said.

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