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Palmerton woman turns 100, gets high school diploma

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    Ruth Behler received an honorary diploma in honor of her 100th birthday. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS

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Published November 09. 2019 07:06AM


Graduating from high school is a dream for some people.

It took Ruth Behler until her 100th birthday on Oct. 9 before that dream came true.

She received an honorary diploma from Palmerton Area High School, her alma mater.

“We at Palmerton Area High School are happy to let you know that we are able to obtain an honorary diploma for you,” said the school’s principal Paula Husar. “Congratulations and Happy 100th birthday.”

Behler, who now lives at Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation in Fountain Hill, had to quit high school in her sophomore year to go to work in a garment factory in order to help support her family. It was in the early years of the Great Depression, and she was one of eight siblings. Her older sister had quit high school the year before to go work.

“I came from such a poor family,” she said. “Hard living, we had it hard.”

The family of 10 lived in a four-room bungalow house near the New Jersey Zinc Co.

“It was tough,” she said. “In the summer time, my brothers would go outside and sleep on the porch.”

Behler said she was so happy to receive the letter from PAHS Principal Paula Husar. Education is important to her, but it wasn’t an option for her. She’s not sure what she would have wanted to be if she had been able to finish school.

“It would have meant a lot to me if I had got it,” she said. She’s so happy though for her great-great granddaughter, who is about the age she was when she had to quit school, but she plans to be a doctor someday.

The honor of receiving the honorary diploma was made possible through Cedarbrook Dream Catchers, the Cedarbrook Fountain Hill chapter of the Second Wind Dreams charity. Second Wind Dreams is an international organization that specializes in granting wishes to seniors. The chapter at Cedarbrook is comprised of current and prior employees.

“We’re so proud of Ruth for these milestones — her 100th birthday and receiving her high school diploma,” said Jason Cumello, Cedarbrook administrator.


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