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Red Lake Man Gets GED at 70

One 70-year-old says it’s never too late—he recently got his GED, and his accomplishment could inspire others to do the same.

James King Sr. quit school when he was 16 to start working, and his son did the same.

“My son quit school when he was 16 too. We were living in Minneapolis at that time. He asked me back then if he could quit, and I said okay but you’re going to have to go to work. You could still get away with that back then, not so today,” King said. “Today kids need an education, it’s not like when I was young, now you need an education to get any kind of a decent job.”

The elder King is now following in his son’s footsteps, the younger King got his GED just a few months ahead of his father.

“At first I wasn’t going to do it. Why would a guy my age do this?” King asked himself before joining the Red Lake New Beginnings Program.

"He showed up, displaying extra effort as he worked on getting his GED,” Marv Hanson, the program’s executive director, said of King, “and he did very, very, well. We're very proud of him. Thank you Jim, you are truly an inspiration for our GED program and Red Lake Nation.”

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“I’m not sure why I decided to do it, maybe a bunch of things. Maybe it’s my nature, maybe it was my son recently graduating, or maybe it was my granddaughter going after her GED,” King said.

He, along with 82 others—including his granddaughter Bambi King—received their GED certificates May 20 during a formal cap and gown ceremony. King was also presented with a Pendleton blanket during the ceremony.

“I would have graduated in 1958. When I started doing the GED thing, I told them I wanted to take the test they would have given me back in ‘58. I figured that would be easier, but they didn’t buy it,” King said.

He has been an inspiration not only to the younger generations he recently graduated with, but also to his own.

“Guys I went to school with are talking now about getting their GED, which is kind of neat,” he said.

He may be retired now, but he’s still active on the Red Lake Fisheries Board, the Tribal Enrollment Committee and he sits in on tribal council meetings, “just to be nosy,” he said.