High school diploma awarded to Minnesota man, 91, who dropped out to save family farm

A Minnesota man dropped out of the eighth grade during the 1930s to help save his family’s livestock farm. Monday night, after a life of achievement and generosity, he was awarded the high school diploma he sacrificed for his family.

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Cliff Hanson, 91, received a diploma from Benson High School at Lake Ridge Care Center in Buffalo, the West Central Tribune of Willmar reported.

"He was really defined by that moment of having to drop out of school, so I got to work thinking, 'How can I change that thinking and celebrate how much he accomplished,'" Tamara Pierre, of Lake Ridge Care Center, told WCCO.

The ResoLute program at Lake Ridge Care Center contacted officials at Benson High, who decided Hanson deserved a diploma, the television station reported.

Hanson grew up on a farm near Swift Falls. When he started school, he only spoke Norwegian, the Tribune reported. After dropping out of school, he helped his family, got married in 1949 and raised four children as he worked on his own farm, the newspaper reported.

Hanson moved his family to St. Paul in 1957 and worked for the Taystee Bread company while taking night classes to become a welder, according to the Tribune. He worked as a welder for 23 years and then split time as a school bus driver and hotel maintenance man after he was laid off, the newspaper reported.

"He's a really smart man, really good values, he can do anything you put in front of him," Hanson's son, Andrew Hanson, told WCCO.

The Benson School District agreed. Hanson's diploma has the following notation, the Tribune reported:

"Benson High School, of Benson, Minnesota, is pleased to present to Clifford H Hanson, for his selfless dedication to family and community, and his willingness to forego his formal education for the betterment of the lives of those he held dear, this honorary diploma.”

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