ROXBURY, NJ – 90-year-old Chester “Chet” Jones had only four words to say Monday when presented with an honorary diploma from Roxbury High School: “That’s all I wanted.”
The lifelong Roxbury resident left high school in January of his senior year to work and then join the military, said Roxbury High School Guidance Director Emilie Bacchetta. She said failing to get a diploma was one of Jones’ longtime regrets.
Members of Roxbury VFW Post 2833 were among those at the Roxbury School Board meeting when Roxbury High School Principal Jeffrey Swanson handed Jones the certificate. Many of Jones’ family were also proudly there.
Swanson mentioned journalist Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book The Greatest Generation when he presented Jones with the document. He cited Jones’ service to country and family.
After leaving high school, the Succasunna teenager worked for a while and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve. That was followed by a stint in the U.S. Army that included service during the Korean War.
The diploma makes Jones an honorary graduate of the Roxbury High School Class of 1947.
“He’s been in this town all his life,” said the guidance counselor, noting that Jones’ granddaughter attends Franklin School and his daughter works as a teachers’ aide in Jefferson School. “His family contacted me and said not getting a diploma was one of his biggest life regrets.”
In a Facebook post, Roxbury Councilman Dan Kline – the Roxbury Mayor and Council’s liaison to the school board – said he was “truly humbled” to have helped in the effort to get Jones an honorary diploma. “Thank you for your service to our country and congratulations on getting your high school diploma!” wrote Kline.