LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the spring of 1957, Raymond Suell was a U.S. Air Force veteran, married with children and a recent graduate from what was then the University of Louisville’s School of Law.
Life got in the way of making his commencement ceremony.
“Still working at night, trying to build a law practice during the day,” said Suell, in an interview at his home last month. “I just wasn’t able to make it to the graduation with the other students.”
Suell went on to practice criminal and civil law and served as a night court, juvenile court and circuit court judge.
Now 92-years-old, he still works as a real estate appraiser.
All this time, he’s thought about that walk he never got to take.
“It was just one of those things that you just kind of think about, kind of wish you had done,” he said. “I thought, what the heck, so I called [UofL] up and they said, ‘Sure. We’d be glad to have you.’”
Last month, at the Louisville Palace Theatre, came the moment 66 years in the making.
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Dean Melanie Jacobs introduced Suell, who graduated first in his class and was a member of the Delta Theta Phi law fraternity and editor of the Louisville law magazine, according to the university.
“This is a bucket list item, right?” said Jacobs. “It’s fabulous. He always wanted to walk … We are so pleased that several members of his family are here to see him walk and good friends and they are all here to see him celebrate this tremendous accomplishment.”
As Suell walked across the stage to receive his doctoral hood, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place, according to those who attended the ceremony.
It was a feeling that’s hard for his son Rick to put into words.
“I was happy for him,” he said, choked up with emotion. “We were all proud of him. Still are.”
Suell’s wife of 71 years, Mary Angela, died two years ago. She would have loved the ceremony, Suell said.
“I was worried about imposing upon a special day for the students, and they were so gracious, so pleasant,” he said. “They all hooted and cheered me when I walked. As I was leaving, they thanked me for my service. They congratulated me. They were just so gracious. What a wonderful bunch of people.”
He had this advice for the recent law school graduates:
“Don’t get so wrapped up in your law that you let your family life go. Just balance it out and enjoy every minute of it.”
Raymond Suell, Class of 1957. And now, it’s official.