LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville today awarded a degree to Chillicothe, Ohio, resident Larry Byers McKillip, who served with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and has stage IV cancer.
McKillip, 74, was unable to finish his UofL education after he left school in 1979 to take care of his parents, but always felt he had “left some unfinished business” in Louisville, said his son-in-law, Jason Beavers. McKillip was pursuing a degree in Recreational Education at the time, and had transferred to UofL after two years of community college.
UofL awarded McKillip an Associate’s Degree in Recreational Education along with a Certificate of Recognition from the College of Education and Human Development.
He was also named an Adopted Alumnus during the brief ceremony on the steps of Grawemeyer Hall, where he was joined by his family and UofL administrators, faculty and staff.
McKillip said he felt “so grateful to the university and what you have done. … It’s something that I’ve wanted for so long.”
McKillip had earned the rank of petty officer second class before he was discharged from the Navy in 1971. He served two years in Vietnam on the medical team of a Marine Corps. boat.
He had put his UofL education to work at the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he was a recreation technician who helped to keep ailing veterans active during their hospital stay. He retired in 2006.
McKillip was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer in 2016. He has been married to his wife, Linda, for 40 years and they have four children.