Kansas woman who graduated from college at age 95 has died

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Posted: Dec 13, 2016 12:04 PM
Kansas woman who graduated from college at age 95 has died

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who once was listed as the world's oldest person to receive a college degree at the age of 95, has died.

Nola Ochs died Friday at a senior living home in Dodge City at the age of 105. Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Dodge City, with burial in her longtime home of Jetmore, according to the Beckwith Funeral Home in Jetmore.

Ochs earned a general studies degree with an emphasis in history from Fort Hays State University in 2007. At the time, the Guinness World Records said she was the oldest college graduate in the world. She went on to earn a master's degree in liberal studies with a concentration on history in 2010, at the age of 98, and continued taking classes until age 100 before returning to her family's farm near Jetmore.

When she earned her bachelor's degree, then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius presented her diploma and she was honored by the Kansas Legislature. She also did numerous television and media interviews.

In an interview with The Associated Press shortly before she graduated in 2007, Ochs said she was "just another student" and felt accepted at Fort Hays State.

"I don't dwell on my age," she said. "It might limit what I can do. As long as I have my mind and health, it's just a number."

Ochs' began taking classes at Dodge City Community College after the death of her husband, Vernon, in 1972. She then took classes at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City but it closed before she could graduate. She enrolled in online classes at Fort Hays in 2006 and then moved 100 miles from her farm in Jetmore to an apartment at Fort Hays State to complete the final 30 hours of her bachelor's degree. She graduated with her granddaughter in 2007.

After Ochs returned to her family farm, she wrote her memoirs, which are in the process of being published, according to her obituary.

Ochs was born Nov. 22, 1911, near Ramsey, Illinois. Her family moved to Ainsworth, Nebraska then to Jetmore in 1927. She taught in rural schools in Hodgeman County and raised four sons with her husband. She was preceded in death by her husband and two sons. Survivors include two sons and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.