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For the week of  September 5 - 11, 2001


WWII vet awarded high school diploma

Bowcutt was drafted after 
his junior year

Express Staff Writer

Levon Bowcutt’s dreams of receiving a high school diploma have lingered in his mind for more than 56 years. Last week they came true for the World War II veteran.

World War II veteran Levon Bowcutt, with his wife Nancy, received his high school diploma at the Shoshone Rehabilitation and Living Center on Thursday. Express photo by Peter Boltz

Instead of completing his senior year in 1945 at Bellevue High School, Bowcutt was sent to war against Nazi Germany.

Like many of his generation, he turned 18 in 1944 during his junior year in high school, and shortly afterward received a letter from his draft board. It said he could finish his junior year, but he’d have to finish his education after the war.

When he returned to Bellevue, however, Bowcutt chose not to finish high school, and so he has been the only one in his family without a high school diploma.

That is, until Thursday, when he was awarded a Wood River High School diploma by Blaine County School Superintendent Jim Lewis.

Bowcutt, 75, now lives at the Shoshone nursing home, and has a hard time communicating. His wife, Nancy, 71, who lives in Bellevue, said he’s been in Shoshone for two years.

Their son, Ronald, often visits his father there.

During a visit about a year ago, Ronald Bowcutt said he noticed his dad was upset. Everyone in his family had graduated from high school, but he never received his diploma, he told his son.

Ronald Bowcutt called the offices of the Blaine County School District to see what could be done. Lauri Frost, the district’s public relations person, investigated and found that the state of Idaho would waive missing credits and award Levon the high school diploma he so wanted.

Ronald Bowcutt said that once he talked with Frost, she did all the work.

"She really deserves most of the credit for getting this done," he said.

Nancy Bowcutt said she didn’t know why her husband never finished his education after the war.

"Maybe he had this thing about this girl," she said.

The girl was Nancy. The two had been dating when he was drafted.

"I was just a kid, and it just broke my heart when he had to leave," she said.

But, ultimately, it was only an interlude in their long life together.

"We picked up dating again after he came back from the war.

"Someone knocked on the door one afternoon, and there I was, mopping the floor," she said. That night they went to a movie at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

They were married July 27, 1947, and celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary this year.

Nancy’s brother, Gene Drussell, also turned 18 in 1944 during his junior year at Bellevue High School.

Drussell said he and Bowcutt were inducted into the U.S. Army in June that year at Fort Douglas in Utah, and later were assigned duty with separate units.

"He went to Europe with the 52nd Armored Battalion, and I went into the Army Air Force," Drussell said.

Unlike Bowcutt, Drussell completed his high school education when he returned from the war.

But the experience was a "little different," he said.

Drussell was 20, not much older than his classmates in years, when he went back to school. But as a war veteran, he was far older in experience.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.