SULTAN — A 100th birthday party here doubled as a high school graduation ceremony.
Doris Hill Jelinek would have graduated from Sultan Union High School in 1935. But, like many women of the era, she did not continue her education after she met her husband.
“In those days, you didn’t keep going after you got married,” Jelinek said.
She left school in 1931 after completing eighth grade. But, Jelinek said, she always wished she would have finished high school.
Now, 80 years later, she has completed that goal. Officials from the Sultan School District surprised her at her 100th birthday party Saturday with a graduation ceremony and an honorary high school diploma.
“She was just ear-to-ear smiles,” Superintendent Dan Chaplik said.
As tradition mandates, he had Jelinek don a cap and gown. Chaplik and Sultan High School Principal Tami Nesting gave graduation speeches.
Sultan School Board members Patty Fountain and Ed Hussman then certified the Class of 1935 and Jelinek threw her cap up into the air.
“I don’t know how far I threw it but it sure felt good,” she said. “I’m very proud of receiving this. It’s another step in life.”
The more than 100 friends and family members, including several grandchildren, cheered and clapped as Jelinek received the degree she had wanted for so long.
“It was priceless,” Nesting said.
Jelinek has lived in Sultan since her family moved to the area to find work in the woods when she was in grade school.
When she was 15, she met her future husband, Louis Jelinek, at a local dance. At the end of the evening, he asked if he could see her again.
“Well I sure didn’t turn him down,” Jelinek said.
They married not long after they met. Jelinek supported her husband throughout his career as he worked for the city in various roles, including leading the police and fire departments.
During World War II, Jelinek was part of Sultan’s sky watch program. She took shifts identifying the planes flying over the area and recording the information. She also worked for Boeing as it ramped up production on the B-29 Superfortress.
“Mother really was a Rosie the Riveter,” said her youngest son, Clyde Jelinek, 78.
Jelinek also worked other jobs and volunteered in the community. She raised three sons, Louis Jr., Richard and Clyde Jelinek.
It was her boys who arranged for officials from the Sultan School District to surprise her with her degree at her 100th birthday party. The Sultan City Council also gave her an honorary key to the city.
“I haven’t’ done anything special, ever,” Jelinek said. “But I have always tried to be a good citizen.”
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; email@example.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.
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