Lower Merion High School on Monday welcomed a visit from a man Principal Sean Hughes called "one of the most extraordinary alumni ever to wear the maroon and white."
Army Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., a Bryn Mawr native who graduated from LMHS in 1944 and went on to a distinguished and varied career, joined Hughes for the announcement of a perpetual service award in his honor.
Becton, 85, was a pioneer in many ways, particularly as a black man surging through the ranks of the military in the early days of its integration. He joined the Army Air Corps just after leaving LMHS and advanced as he fought in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a three-star general in 1983.
Becton spoke to students Monday afternoon. He remembered growing up at Bryn Mawr Court, at Morris and Montgomery avenues, and said his parents—neither of whom graduated high school—demanded he and his brother go to college.
"I was always challenged to do the best I could," Becton said.
The general recalled having to attend hours of church every week and recording perfect attendance at school. He also lamented that he had to deal with bullies as a young man.
Current students chuckled in appreciation when Becton described how fierce the rivalry with Radnor was in his day. Of course, the general added, he ended up marrying a Radnor girl: "She didn't think much of us."