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August 15, 2013

After Joe earned George Schwickert’s trust by braving an angry German shepherd to collect on a past due account, he was hired as the office manager at Schwickert Hardware. In 1955, Joe decided to finish what he started before he left for war: his accounting degree. He continued to work full-time at the local hardware store, and took evening classes twice a week. Since Schwickert’s didn’t open until 9:30 a.m., he was able to take an early morning class, too.

While Joe worked and completed his degree, his wife, Meredith, stayed home to raise their growing family. When Joe began to prepare for the CPA exam, he found it difficult to study at home (having several kids around proved to be a slight distraction!). Joe decided studying would have to take place in the early morning hours—but where?

Joe had an idea: He went to the Mankato State College president, Mr. Clarence Crawford, and asked if there was a place he could study before the college campus opened. Mr. Crawford invited Joe to use Room 103 in the Old Main Building, which was open by 6:00 a.m. each day. Grateful, Joe took every advantage of this opportunity and dedicated his morning hours to studying for the CPA exam.

In 1963 his—and Meredith’s—hard work paid off when he walked across the stage to receive his college diploma. Meredith and his five children beamed from the audience.

Most noteworthy, however, was the fact that Joe was the first known student in the United States to pass the CPA exam prior to graduating from college. Mankato State College broadcast this news throughout the area and all over the country. (Joe had taken the test in November, received his results in February, and graduated in August.)

To be continued in Chapter 4…

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