George Dawson; He didn’t learn to read and write until he was 98 years of age and co-authored a bestselling book at the age of 102.
Here is his remarkable story:
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George (1898 – 2001) was born in Marshall, Texas in the Deep South, where there were no schools for "coloreds."
From the age of 4, George picked cotton and other crops, helping his family to survive.
Later, when a "colored school" opened, his family needed his labor too much to let him attend school.
But nearly a century later, in 1996, a literacy volunteer knocked on George's door seeking students and George immediately said yes becoming perhaps the oldest first time student in U.S. history.
Within two days George had learned the alphabet, and was soon learning to read and write, inspired by the opportunity to receive a formal education.
Life had already given him an informal education.
One of the life lessons George received happened when he was 10 years old to his mentor, an older black boy named Pete.
When a white teenager got pregnant, her furious father claimed their hired hand Pete did it. A mob seized Pete and dragged him to a tree used for hanging black people, and hung him.
Six months later that teenager gave birth to a white baby by her boyfriend, but no further action was ever taken to rectify Pete's murder.
This was the Deep South, and "coloreds" had few rights or opportunities.
George learned this harsh lesson, but decided that rather than carrying a grudge, he would make the most of his life, by keeping a positive attitude.
Unable to read and write, over the years George did manual labor jobs at survival wages, sometimes needing two jobs to make ends meet.
He picked crops, built Mississippi River levees, laid rail track, built roads and for 25 years, did equipment maintenance at a dairy.
When he "retired" at age 65, he started his own business doing landscape work, which continued until he was 88 years of age.
George and his wife Elzenia had seven children and with George’s determination all of their children became college graduates.
And in 2000, at the age of 102, he and author Richard Glaubman completed his memoir, "life is so good," which became a bestseller, captivating readers all over the world.
George became a celebrity, but it didn’t change him.
"Life is so good and it gets better every day," he said and he spent his last years avidly attending school to learn more, and serving as an example to others that it is never too late to grow.