By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) -– With the exception of two siblings, the class of 2019 at Manual High School graduated last weekend. It took Anita and George Ramirez a little longer to receive their diplomas — almost 80 years longer.


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While everyone’s tassels were turning left, George Ramirez was headed east.

“All through Europe. I landed up in Czechoslovakia at the last stop,” said George. It wasn’t a gap year or a graduation trip. George had been drafted, but not to play sports.

(courtesy: Ramirez family)

“It was World War II. I came home and I was laying around the house for a couple weeks. My dad told me I can’t live like this. I had to get up and get a job,” explained George, who is now 95 years old. He served in the US Army as a tank driver in France, Belgium and Germany. After being honorably discharged, he returned to the states and got married. He and his wife have seven children. All of which children graduated from high school. Four earned college degrees.

George’s sister, Anita, left school at just 15 years old. She became a full-time nanny to help her family. Anita and her husband have three children, who all graduated from high school. Two earned college degrees.

George and Anita left school to support their families and their country. Nearly eight decades later, their families followed them back to Manual to support them.

During a small ceremony in a classroom at Manual High School, George and Anita Ramirez received honorary diplomas, together.

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“Mr. George Ramirez.”


“Ms. Anita Ramirez Cruz.”


The siblings have heard generations of Ramirez names called at graduations, but they’ve never heard their own until Wednesday.

George and Anita have watched their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren graduate. Their family was in the audience when they finally crossed the stage.

“She persevered and I think everything has come to fruition. She’s very proud of her kids and grandchildren. Now, we’re so proud of her,” said Sonya Wisnesky, Anita’s daughter. Since Anita was not able to finish school, Sonya says her mom always stressed the importance of education to her children.

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Diplomas and graduation caps in hand, Anita and George left Manual High School together, again, for the last time.

Tori Mason