Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Junior, 74, Likes Dorm Life but Misses Recliner Joplin, Mo., College's Oldest Resident, Ever, Sets Her Goal: A 4-Year Degree

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Junior, 74, Likes Dorm Life but Misses Recliner Joplin, Mo., College's Oldest Resident, Ever, Sets Her Goal: A 4-Year Degree

Article excerpt

A few weeks into the college year, Virginia Shaver has settled into her corner of Missouri Southern State College's McCormick Hall.

The powder blue bedspread and Oriental rug add a touch of home to her tiny box of a dorm room.

Her favorite poster hangs on the door to her room, and a roster listing the Lions' football schedule is thumbtacked next to her desk.

But the best spot on the wall is occupied by photos of the student's pride and joy: her great-grandchildren.

At age 74, Shaver has taken her place as the oldest dorm resident Missouri Southern has ever housed.

"If I die before I get my degree, I'm hoping that St. Peter will let me finish classes in heaven," said Shaver.

A microwave from home, a pair of her favorite house slippers and an assortment of her favorite snacks occupy a shelf. But Shaver says there's one thing missing that would complete her comfort.

"I miss my big recliner. I may have to break down and buy one before the year's over."

Technically, Shaver began the year as a college junior, having received her associate degree a few years ago from Crowder College in Neosho. Her desire now has turned to what she calls her "writing future." The bulk of the 16 hours she's carrying this semester include writing classes.

"I'm here to get my communications degree, and I'm not wasting any time. Let's face it, honey; I don't have that much time left."

Richard Massa, head of the communications department at MSSC, says that when Shaver talked with him earlier this year, she was very specific about her goal.

"Rarely do I meet a student over 60 who is as motivated as Virginia," he said.

Besides being a mother and wife, Shaver, of Anderson, had worked behind the counter of the family owned store, Shaver Brothers, in Tiff City. Later, she was a social worker for the Newton County Division of Family Services. After retirement, she took on a new role as caretaker for her husband, Dean, a former state representative. He died of cancer in 1987. …

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