While recording his life stories for his family earlier this year, 99-year-old Lou Pioli said there was one thing missing: A college degree. In 1942, Pioli was studying to be a dentist at Niagara University in upstate New York when he was drafted into the Army. He asked the draft board chairman to let him finish the semester.
"Right away he said, 'What do you want two years so you can dodge the draft?' Oh boy, I got very annoyed with him saying that. It's the first time I lost my cool," Pioli said.
He served as a trooper in France and flew in military gliders. After the war, he ended up in the insurance business. But daughter Lou Ann got to thinking a life of service deserved one more honor, an honorary degree.
She wrote to Niagara University, saying he was proud of his time there, still had his "purple freshman tie and beanie" and "personifies the values and exemplifies the mission" of the university. A request like that is hard to refuse. So on Monday, at a special ceremony in Vermont, Pioli got to hold his own diploma, an associate degree, hand delivered by Niagara University's provost.
"I'm just so happy that he was able to experience this," Lou Ann Pioli said.