It took about 80 years, but Reba Williams finally has her high-school diploma.

Williams is 106 now, and lives with her daughter in Columbus. But back in the 1920s, she was a headstrong, stubborn teenager in Mount Vernon who refused to re-read a book she hated, and to write a corresponding report on said book, for an English class.

They were the only things that kept Williams from getting her high-school degree.

On Wednesday, the Mount Vernon City School Board decided she had waited long enough, and presented her with a diploma in a special ceremony.

“It was a real lesson in the value of a high-school diploma,” said Paula Barone, a member of the school board. “Lots of people had to struggle really hard to be able to make those kinds of things happen.”

Williams’ grandfather had been a slave in the South, and, before he was freed, the plantation owner’s sister taught him to read and write. In turn, he demanded that his children and grandchildren appreciate their own education.

“He really stressed that his children had to finish high school, he didn’t care how old they were, they were going to finish high school,” said Lavata Williams, Reba’s daughter. “So when (his daughter’s) oldest child doesn’t get her diploma, you know how she must have felt.”

Williams, who spent her working life as a housekeeper and cook, worked for a time at Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, outside Mansfield. She was there when Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall.

She said recently that she also has made reading a lifelong passion. And she does not remember the name of the book that stood in the way of her graduation.

Lavata Williams said her mother never blamed the school system for her lack of a diploma.

“I don’t think she had any regrets,” Lavata Williams said. “She’s that kind of person, she’s from the old school. You make decisions and you live by them.”