WWII Veteran Gets High School Diploma 75 Years Later

MODESTO -- Charles Fenley was given a standing ovation Tuesday -- 75 years in the making.

Back in 1942, during World War II, Fenley left high school in Stockton to join the Navy. He turned 18 while storming a beach in France.

"It wasn't Hawaii and my neighbors, the French girls and wine, there wasn't any of that either," Fenley said.

Honorably discharged in 1945, Fenley settled in Modesto where he successfully ran a car wash business for 54 years. He was married for 70 years to a woman named Annabelle who passed away last year.

"I miss her. I miss her. She was a good woman. She raised the children. All I did was work and work and work. I've been very lucky," he said.

Annabelle was sorely missed especially Tuesday as Fenley received his high school diploma, thanks to the Stanislaus County Office of Education's "Operation Recognition."

With 93 years of memories both happy and tragic, Fenley shared his secret to a long life.

"Work hard and keep your nose clean," he said.