Collins High Res 50Love and family led Glenn Collins to leave Limestone College in 1964 with one year left in his academic studies for a college degree.
Nearly a half century later, Collins kept a longtime promise to his wife this fall when he finished his degree in Liberal Studies. The 72-year-old walked across the stage in his graduation gown Saturday where he joined 400 students in receiving degrees from Limestone College in commencement ceremonies.
The part-time county maintenance worker left his college studies behind shortly before he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1964. The United States had escalated its involvement in the Vietnam War and was in the process of building its military force.
Collins never served in the Vietnam War. He was transferred from the Army shortly after the draft to the U.S. Marines where a problem with stomach ulcers resulted in leaving the military.
It was love, not war that led Collins to leave college.
"I didn't go back for my senior year at Limestone. I met my wife and got married," Collins said. "These were tough times financially when I went to Limestone in the 1960s. I worked a full-time job and became a student at night. By the time I got exempted from the draft, my wife and I had a child on the way. I knew I needed to go to work to raise my family."
Collins operated a gas station for 13 years before he opened his own business, Collins Automotive. After 21 years, Collins developed heart problems and was forced to step away from his automotive business following heart surgery.
He leased the property and went to work as a warehouse manager for Cherokee County in 1999. 
Although busy with his job and family. Collins never forgot about his college education.
"I made a promise to my wife when we got married that I would go back and finish my degree at Limestone College," Collins said. "I started thinking about going back to school three to four years ago. I just wasn't sure whether any of my course credits from my time at Limestone in the 1960s were still good."
After meeting with admissions counselors, Collins ultimately took 24 credit hours over the past year to complete his associate of arts degree in Liberal Studies. There were only a few courses the longtime Gaffney resident needed to retake because of changes in college degree requirements over the past four decades.
Collins enrolled in the Limestone College Extended Campus where he took Internet classes to complete his degree. 
"I am deeply grateful to Limestone College that I was able to do this. Technology has made a world of difference in being able to finish my education," Collins said. "It feels really good to finally have my college degree. It just shows you are never to old to learn."
(Article and photo by Scott Powell, The Gaffney Ledger. Published: Dec. 18, 2013. www.GaffneyLedger.com)