FARMERS BRANCH ~ Not all college students graduate in the originally intended four years. Some take five, some take six.
Don Ross was on the 50-year plan.
A part-time Farmers Branch Fire Inspector for the past five years, Don is fondly looking back on 2014 today as the year he turned 70 and the year he finally graduated from college.
It was 1964 when the 20-year-old Don Ross first started working on his Bachelor's degree in Illinois. However, it wasn't long before Uncle Sam called him up for a trip to southeast Asia.
After two years in the Army, including combat experience in Vietnam, Don returned stateside and tried to go back to school but found the 1960s reception for returning Vietnam Veterans to be unwelcoming.
So, he hit the workforce.
Suddenly, 30 years went by working for an insurance company and a home improvement retailer.
Then, 10 years ago at the age of 60, Don and his wife, Nancy had a house fire at their home in Lewisville.
He was so fascinated by the machinations and procedures of the fire investigation that he went to school to become a Firefighter, Fire Inspector, Investigator and Certified Texas Peace Officer. And, in 2011, he resumed work on that long-idle undergraduate degree program.
Three years-worth of night classes later, Don earned his Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences degree from the University of North Texas. What's more is that he did it with a 3.8 grade point average.
But, he's not stopping there.
In January he will become Don Ross, the graduate student, working towards a Master's Degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice. He expects this degree to only take about three and a half years.
"At age 70, Don is really hitting his stride," said Farmers Branch Fire Chief Steve Parker. "We're looking forward to having Don serve the citizens of Farmers Branch well into the future."