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96-Year-Old Graduate Inspires Students To Value Education

96-year-old Lupe Dimas is well known for his faith, his goodwill and his love for the Badgers. One thing that has been very little known about Dimas until recently, is his dream.

Three years ago, when Dimas contracted COVID,  County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos began to visit Dimas to pray with him.

Over time, Dimas told his story to Ramos.

“You’ve done so many good things in life,” Ramos said. “Is there anything that you regret?”

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“I regret that I was never able to complete school,” Dimas said.

So with the help of Ramos, Dimas finally received a diploma in the cafetorium Sept. 14.

“I am just so honored that I was able to be a part of fulfilling his dream and making that happen not just for him, but for his wife, his kids and his grandkids,” Ramos said.

By the time Dimas was in third grade he had lost both of his parents, so he moved in with his aunt in Lampasas.

“[His aunt] took him out [of school] in the third grade so he could help get money for her family and her kids,” Dimas’s daughter Dianne Hibbert said. “He yearned for that learning and he would ask his cousins to share their books, but he was also a hard worker and helped out because he appreciated the fact that they had taken him in.”

In 1944, at 18 years old, Dimas was drafted into the army to fight in World War II. After the war in 1947, when an entrance exam was required in order to re-enlist in the army, he was not able to re-enlist because a high school diploma was  required.

“Mr. Dimas said ‘I think if I would have gotten a diploma, my world would have opened up to me,’” Ramos said.

Not being able to re-enlist in the military upset him. However, he joined the U.S. National Guard, which he served in for nearly 30 years.

“My dad’s impact on patriotism, and serving your country was huge,” Hibbert said.

In 1949, Dimas married his wife, who he raised five children with.

“The only thing I can tell you about my mama is that my daddy loves her,” Hibbert said. “They’ve been married 74 years. If I can have a love like that, I’d die a happy woman.”

The two raised their children, who participated in many extra curricular activities in Lampasas, including football.

“He loves the Badgers,” Hibbert said. “He’s a fence stander. He stands and coaches from the fence.”

Dimas has often been found at football games, St. Mary’s church and walking around town

“Everybody knows my dad from church,” Hibbert said. “Everybody knows him from the community. One of his favorite things to do was to walk and sit on the wall of the First Texas Bank on North on Key Avenue. He would just sit there in the morning from like 6:00 to 7:00 and just wave to everybody and the school buses.”

In 2021, Dimas grew extremely ill with COVID and entered the “fight of his life.” After being hospitalized for months, Dimas was placed in his daughter’s home where he received 24-hour care.

“I had just bought a new house and had just moved in,” Hibbert said. “My stuff was still in boxes, and I said we’re not unpacking. We’re going to turn my home into a nursing home. Everybody get ready.”

Within his first three days of in-home care, Dimas stopped breathing twice.

“He saw butterflies in the purple field and he had this euphoric laugh,” Hibbert said. “We had already decided he had a DNR, and all I did was I shook him. I grabbed his shoulders and I shook him, and he slowly started coming back.”

While in home care, Ramos began to visit and pray with Dimas frequently.

“I was visiting him every Sunday,” Ramos said. “I would sit there and pray with him and he was getting ready to die. He just knew that that was around the corner. Well, apparently God had other plans.”

“He had said ‘All I ever wanted to do was learn how to read and graduate from high school and get my high school diploma.'”

— Sheriff Jess Ramos

Though Dimas and Ramos met in 2002 at church, in 2021 they formed a bond. Ramos describes Dimas as a “fatherly mentor kind of a man,” which is important to Ramos, who lost his father to cancer at the age of 14.

“There’s so many similarities between him and my dad,” he said. “He’s very, very dear to my heart. I’ve just never seen him or heard him speak ill of anybody.  Although he doesn’t sound like my dad or anything like that, just his presence and similarities, I feel my dad’s presence when I’m with him.”

Through these visits, Ramos learned that Dimas never graduated.

“He had said ‘All I ever wanted to do was learn how to read and graduate from high school and get my high school diploma,” Ramos said. “I don’t have one, Jess. I just don’t have one and I wanted one so bad, but I’ll never have one.’”

Though he never graduated, Dimas revealed he felt accomplished in serving his country as well as raising his family.

“[Mr. and Mrs. Dimas] have been there for each and every one of us, and in our own way, every single time [we needed it],” Hibbert said.

Recently, Dimas acquired a case of the shingles that led to fluid building up in his heart which placed him in the ICU.

“He was dying,” Hibbert said. “I mean, he was hours from death. They stabilized him, and we brought him home, and we brought him home to die. He was just on deathwatch, and so Jess started coming again.”

This scare made Ramos feel deeply for Dimas and his family, and he wanted to do something for them.

“I’m sitting there discussing it with my wife, and I said ‘I just wish I could do something about that,’” he said. “I hate the idea that he’s going through life without ever achieving his high school diploma. So my wife says, ‘Well, you know [Superintendent] Dr. Rascoe very well, you know [high school principal] Joey McQueen, how about you do the asking for an honorary diploma?’”

After receiving permission from Rascoe and McQueen, he asked approval of the family to do this service and they agreed in tears.

“I told him, I said, ‘Daddy, you’re graduating,’ and he started crying and crying,” Hibbert said.

After doing research, lead counselor Penny Wilson found out that Dimas was qualified to receive a true high school diploma and go down in the books as a graduate from Lampasas High School, instead of just an honorary diploma.

“I can’t ask for any more than that,” Ramos said. “To this day, it’s still a buzz in my head to think that we were able to make this happen.”

LISD staff put a large amount of effort into making Dimas’s graduation as special as possible. This included inviting students to join, giving him a 2023 graduate cord and an honors blanket.

“I want to thank LISD for going above and beyond for him,” Dimas’s granddaughter Jana Hernandez said. “I think it was more than we ever imagined. My grandfather is a die-hard Badger fan, so to be able to receive his diploma for LISD was special.”

Dimas’s graduation touched the hearts of family members, friends and strangers.

“My grandpa, Papaw, has played one of the biggest roles in my life,” his great granddaughter sophomore Johnnie Lewis said. “I’ve always looked up to him since I was little and always adored him. He has inspired me to grow closer to God, forgive people and stay in school.”

After his graduation, many students felt more grateful for their opportunity to have access to education.

“I hope the students who witnessed the graduation will understand how important the high school diploma was to Mr. Dimas and never take our education for granted,” McQueen said.

Hibbert said her father is “so deserving of this.”

“I can’t believe that it has actually happened for him,” she said. “God is so good. He surrounds us with so many angels like Jess Ramos and Joey McQueen, every one of those people that were up there honoring my dad and all of those kids. I saw kids hanging onto every word, and maybe now just one of those kids knows that dreams really do come true.”

This story was originally published on Badger Tracks on September 28, 2023.