BYU's Oldest Graduate, Example of Lifelong learning - Y Magazine
Check out the latest podcast episode Listen
BYU Today

BYU’s Oldest Graduate, Example of Lifelong learning

BYU's Oldest Graduate

President Bateman congratulates 91-year-old C. Laird Snelgrove and his wife Edna Haynie Snelgrove.

WHEN BYU conferred a bachelor of arts degree on 91-year-old C. Laird Snelgrove, ’02, on Feb. 13, he became the university’s oldest graduate ever. Snelgrove completed the requirements for his degree in Spanish in December 2002. Until he was diagnosed with cancer in February, Snelgrove had planned to participate in BYU‘s April commencement activities. 

Conferring the degree upon Snelgrove was BYU President Merrill J. Bateman, assisted by Elder M. Russell Ballard. “You have to admire the incredible determination of this man,” Bateman said after presenting Snelgrove with the diploma. 

Snelgrove suspended work on his college degree in 1930, when he chose to serve a mission to Mexico for the Church of Jesus Christ. When he returned three years later, the demands of the growing ice cream business he helped his father establish prevented him from returning to school. A family soon followed, and over the years his commitments to family, church, and public service took precedence. He did not resume his college studies until he was in his late 60s. 

Snelgrove completed his first semester at BYU in 1979. Although it took him more than 20 years to complete his coursework, Snelgrove maintained a high grade point average. During this time, in which he completed much of his coursework by independent study, he also maintained a busy schedule that included his family, business, church, and community service. 

On Feb. 17, only four days after receiving his degree, Snelgrove died peacefully at his home in Salt Lake City.