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By Laura Enderson
“Minnie Comer has become a legend,” Sally Noble, an instructor at Bedford Science and Technology Center (BSTC), said. “At the age of 90, she decided to go back to school.”
On Tuesday, Minnie, who was 92-years-old when she passed away in March, was honored at the Bedford County General Education Development (GED) Recognition Program for the class of 2012. She had been attending classes to receive her GED certificate for two years, attending with her grandson, who earned his certificate.
“Minnie was an inspiration to others,” Noble said. “She showed people that you are never too old to continue your education.”
The Certificate of Achievement from the Virginia Department of Education that Minnie’s family received in her honor was only the second in the state to be given out. Her family said receiving the certificate was a nice gesture, but they wished Minnie could have been at the ceremony to receive her GED.
“We all miss her and we all love her, she was an inspiration to everyone,” Dorothy Hodges, Minnie’s daughter, said.
Minnie was always trying to learn something new, and didn’t give up, even when she became ill in January.
“We’d go visit her in the hospital, and she’d have her homework out,” Ashley Surface, Minnie’s granddaughter-in-law, said.
Her family said the nurses, especially one nurse who had been in one of Minnie’s GED classes, helped her with some of her homework when she was sick.
“Minnie worked very hard. She always wanted more work,” Noble, who taught Minnie for a year and a half, said. “All the students loved having her in the class.”
“She was a role model. It was like having a grandmother,” Noble said, laughing. “Everyone had to behave.”
Ashley said Minnie’s GED classes were a top priority for her. It was difficult to get her to do other activities, like shopping.
“She’d be reading her books,” Ashley said. “And we would try to get her to have some fun—but she’d say ‘I got to finish my school work.’”
Minnie only missed a few classes, Dorothy said. And she was always on time. Ashley said that often they would arrive at school so early they would have to sit in the parking lot until class started.
“An hour before school would start, she’d call me. I would tell her, ‘we have another half an hour before we’d have to leave’,” Ashley said. “She’d call me half an hour later, and I’d tell her ‘I’m on my way’.”
Minnie completed the seventh grade, but stopped attending school when it became difficult for her to make it to class, so she had a lot to learn before she could get her GED. She didn’t mind though, her family said she enjoyed learning, even though it could become difficult. She once left Dorothy a note saying, “I want to learn what the teachers want to teach me.”
“People would ask her why she was going to school. At first she’d tell them ‘it’s something to do,’ but we told her, ‘tell them you’re going to college,’ so she started doing that,” Ashley said, laughing.
Minnie loved to read, write poems and take pictures. Her family also said she read her Bible every day, and loved attending Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on Sundays.