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Koot's owner graduates from college, 48 years later

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published May 19, 2011

A press release issued by the University of San Francisco on Tuesday reports that Mike Gordon -- well-known in Alaska as the owner of the Anchorage bar Chilkoot Charlie's -- will graduate from college at the age of 68, after dropping out of the same university 48 years ago and one semester shy of graduating.

Alaskans may recognize Gordon from this recent ad for the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance, about Koot's going smoke-free:

According to the release, Gordon dropped out of USF in 1963, when he was 20 years old and providing for a wife and a newborn. Over the next four decades, Gordon became accomplished in a number of ways, including climbing Mount McKinley, earning his private pilot's license, and opening Chilkoot Charlie's, a popular Anchorage watering hole that Playboy named "The Best Bar in America" in 2000. Gordon said that USF was accommodating of his desire to return to finish his degree -- a desire spurred with help from a former USF roommate who graduated from the university in 1964 -- and he took two political science and two philosophy courses to earn a major in the former and a minor in the latter. Now, Gordon will walk up onto the stage on Friday and walk down with a degree in hand.

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"This degree means everything in the world to me," Gordon said in the release. "I feel as if my life is fulfilled. When the subject of college comes up, I will no longer have to go into a long explanatory story about when I graduated. Now, I can say proudly, 'I graduated in 2011.'"