2017-09-07 / News

80 years later, Davison-area native finally gets high school diploma

Davison Community Schools

Photos courtesy of Davison Community Schools. Photos courtesy of Davison Community Schools. It was the fall of 1937 and Iris Marie Miles Weatherwax was looking forward to her senior year of high school. She had her senior picture taken and was ready to join her classmates at the M-15 school building now known as Central Elementary. But her school career came to an abrupt halt when the school administration learned she had married and was pregnant. Because of this, they said, she would not be allowed to return to school.

So, while her classmates celebrated commencement the following spring, there was no pomp and circumstance for Iris. Until now.

Iris, who turns 98 in February, was awarded an honorary Davison Community Schools diploma from Superintendent Eric Lieske. Surrounded by family at the Grand Blanc assisted living center she calls home, Lieske presented the diploma and a graduation cap and gown to Iris.

“Can I cry now?” she asked, wiping away a tear, when her son, James Weatherwax, and niece, Paula Clarambeau, explained what was happening as school officials and local media began to congregate inside the living room.

Iris met her husband, Lloyd, after her friend, Edna, pointed him out to her while he was driving a team of horses near his family’s farm on Hubbard Road. The two met and the rest was history.

Lloyd went into the service and went off to fight the war while Iris tended to newborn James, who turns 80 next June. The couple would go on to have a total of four children, with Lloyd Jr. coming next, followed by Kay and Jerry. They grew up next to their grandparents and cousins on Hubbard Road in Richfield Township.

“The south side of the road was my grandfather’s farm and my dad and his two brothers lived all in a row,” James Weatherwax said.

James and Paula remember when their grandmother and mother worked as cooks at the Richfield Center school house. When their grandmother decided to retire, Iris began working full time at the school. She also worked for a brief time as a cook at Wheelock Memorial Hospital (formerly located in Goodrich) and for 19 years at Garrison Ross Insurance Agency. Iris, along with James, Lloyd Jr. and Jerry, also worked at Miles Market (now Zip’s) on M-15 near Bristol Road, for their uncle Jack, who owned the store.

“She has been a wonderful mother,” James said. He thanked his cousin Paula for contacting the school district after recently learning the story from her aunt about not being able to graduate.

“Clearly you can see education matters,” said Lieske. “It has mattered all these years for Iris. It was an honor and privilege to be a part of today’s celebration.”

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