When Lois Bowder was 16, she got married and dropped out of school.

When Lois Bowder was 16, she got married and dropped out of school.

Forty-eight years later, she decided to go back and get her GED.

“I thought that I would go back and I did not,” Bowder recalled. “We were married for 11 years, had two children and later got divorced (from Carl Compton).”

She went back to Warrensburg, then went Warsaw, Mo., and met her late husband, Dick Walker, who passed away in 1999.

“We had a construction company, I learned the business, how to do accounts receivable, payroll, accounts payable, taxes and the whole bit,” she said. “You educate yourself.”

Bowder eventually started working at Wal-Mart in Warsaw for five years, later moving to the Neosho area and worked at the Joplin Wal-Mart on 15th and Rangeline for 15 years. While at the Joplin location, she decided to go into real estate.

“I was in real estate for three years while working at Wal-Mart and when I retired, I went to real estate full-time,” Bowder said. She joined Homefinders Reality, Inc. in 2003. “In 2004, I got married to my husband, Gary Bowder.”

But through the years, Bowder always thought about going back and getting her GED.

“I think what happens is I really never had to use it — it was like experience overcame education,” she said. “Today, it flips around; you can’t get experience without education. The jobs that I have had did not require a high school diploma.”

So now at 64, Bowder decided to pursue her GED.

“I started watching my grandkids graduate and I never wanted any of my children or grandchildren to have the opportunity to say, ‘well you dropped out of school, you did not graduate,’” she said. “There was always that longing and one of the hardest things that I did in my life was to take the real estate test, it was super hard. You have got to have your heart in it. If I can pass the real estate test, I can do this.”

She started going to GED classes in September 2008 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I even stopped for awhile and said, ‘what am I doing, why am I doing this, I don’t have to do this,’” she said. “I was just overwhelmed by all I was doing. You know, that became secondary and then I said, ‘Nope, I can do this. I came this far,’ and I did it.”

Out of all of the subject matter she had to study, Bowder said that math was the hardest, while writing essays was the easiest.

“You just don’t do fractions every day,” she said. “You don’t do division and multiplications every day. You just forget that.”

She also incorporated the help of her grandchildren to help her study math.

She took her test in February and passed. On June 27, with family and friends in the audience at Crowder College’s Bob Sneller Gymnasium, she received her GED.

“I am very proud of getting my GED,” Bowder said. “I encourage others to take the test.”

Bowder has framed her GED certificate, and said she cherishes it every day.

Neosho Daily News