In June, 1919, Texas A&M in College Station had an elderly student in its midst: 75-year-old C. Collier of Liberty Hill in Williamson County, Texas.
Today, stories of older college graduates are typically uplifting stories of older people who overcame obstacles to earn their degree.
Collier’s story was far more tragic.
He was at A&M to take an eight-week course in automobiles and tractors, hoping to become a repairman once he received his certificate following the course.
He was “compelled by the force of circumstances to take up a new trade,” after a series of tragedies.
He began his working life at a planing million Georgetown. However, he was forced out of a job when the mill closed after the supply of material nearby had been exhausted.
From his savings, he purchased a small farm in Williamson County.
“Things moved along well until his wife’s health gave way and finally her invalid condition became such that he had to sell the little farm and move to the village of Leander,” the Bryan Eagle noted.
Three and a half years before Collier entered the eight-week program., his wife died, and he “went to make his one with his only surviving relative, a grandson.”
Tragedy did not end there for Collier, however.
“But the influenza epidemic came to the community and claimed the grandson as one of its victims.”
Thus, “Mr. Collier was compelled to seek a new work by which he can support himself in his old age.”
“Having a natural bent for things mechanical, he decided on the auto course here and is making an excellent start in it.”
“One Student At A. And M. Only 75 Years Old,” The Eagle, June 10, 1919, Bryan, Texas.
He lives in Colorado County, Texas with his two dogs, Lyndon "Puppy" and Senfronia.
He serves on the Colorado County Historical Commission and as Managing Editor of The Colorado County Citizen.
He recently secured a Texas Historical Marker for Etta Moten Barnett. the first black woman to sing solo in the White House. In April, 2019, he was named South Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year for Division I.
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