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A World War II veteran attends his college graduation 80 years later

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Eighty years wasn't too long a wait for an Iowa native to don the ceremonial cap and gown.

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter Robin Opsahl about a fentanyl roundtable and bill signing Governor Kim Reynolds held May 16 in the southwest community of Atlantic.

This new law raises penalties for the manufacture, distribution and possession of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that's 50 times stronger than heroin and is the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S.

Kieffer also talks with Cass County Sheriff Darby McLaren of Atlantic about how a series of fentanyl overdoses in his area led to a six-month investigation and federal charges in 2022.

Then, Linn County native Fred Taylor completed his degree requirements to graduate from Cornell College in 1943, but his father had to pick up his diploma, as he was in basic training for the Army Air Corps Reserve during World War II.

Fast-forward to today, the 101-year-old La Mesa, California resident was surprised by his daughter Linda with a trip to Iowa this month to attend Cornell's commencement with the Class of 2023.

Taylor's visit included a special reception at Drake University where he received his Master's degree 70 years ago - and missed that commencement as well - and a quest to eat some of the state's best-known cuisine.


  • Robin Opsahl, state legislature and politics reporter, Iowa Capital Dispatch
  • Darby McLaren, Cass County Sheriff
  • Fred Taylor, retired music educator, former lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve
  • Linda Taylor, Fred's daughter, professor emerita of anthropology, University of Miami

Cornell College is a financial supporter of IPR

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.