Billy Macon graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1961. His diploma was given to him with a red stamp displaying a rude reminder that “this student met minimum state requirements,” and turning the diploma from a point of pride, into a point of pain.
In an interview with Alaska News, Macon’s wife said he never displayed the certificate in the house, but had it stowed it away in a plastic bag. It belittled his commitment to family and education. For as a senior, he was already married with a child and had a second on the way. He worked half the night at the nearby Elmendorf Air Force base to support them, which also required a one-hour walk each way - while also doing his utmost to find the time to study when he was able.
Macon’s granddaughter Tafena Timpson, after seeing what the red stamp had done and was continuing to do to her grandfather’s sense of pride, tried to contact the school district, but had no success.
Billy Macon is a faithful husband, father, and grandfather. He ran his own business and wrote a book, so his granddaughter tried again, hoping to achieve something nice for his 80th birthday. She wrote a moving social media post hoping to capture the incredible value of a man which the state’s examiners had failed to notice.
Sven Gustafson saw the post and decided to right the wrong. As principal of the same school that Macon had graduated from in 1961, he organized a special re-graduation ceremony, complete with a recital from the school choir and new diploma sans stamp.
“It’s unbelievable, it is unbelievable,” he said. His wife confirmed that he plans to hang this one on the wall.