Editor’s note: Bacon enrolled at Knox in September 2011. At age 79, he was the oldest degree-seeking student in modern Knox history. He passed away in June 2012 before his education was complete.
It is heartwarming to know that so many have fond memories of George Bacon. After 47 years as a millwright, George retired. He was lost with what to do with himself. Everything I suggested, activities that occupy most retirees, just didn’t fill the bill. George, he had to rediscover his lifelong passion: learning.
Permanently hungry for knowledge, George had long-hoped to expand his understanding of machining. Courses previously made inaccessible by a demanding work schedule were newly available. Eventually he found his way to Sandburg Jr. College and enrolled in a machinist course. Exhilarated by the sheer joy of learning, he and happily continued to engage with new subjects. George continued to enroll in more courses without a second thought about fulfilling any kind of requirement or reaching any specific goal. That all changed with the simple suggestion that George look at writing classes, which would bring him closer to graduation.
At age 78, George joined the Carl Sandburg 2010 graduating class. With over 70 friends and family members in attendance, we celebrated George’s accomplishment with a huge graduation party. He was 78 and he could have spent the rest of his days in a well-deserved rocking chair, but he had other plans.
His next big goal was to graduate from either Knox or Monmouth College.
He played the two schools against each other until I was getting embarrassed. Eventually he chose Knox, mostly because he knew he’d need lots of tutoring. He loved it when the students would tell him how much they appreciated his participation in class.
George never gave up on life. Even when the doctor told him there wasn’t anything he could do about his leukemia. At the time of his death he was working on many projects. The one thing that he told all our boys was not to spend their whole lives working. Take time and enjoy your life.
I think that is good advice. Work hard when you’re working, but take time to enjoy your life too.