With bin Laden dead, teacher shaves 10-year-old beard

With bin Laden dead, teacher shaves 10-year-old beard
Gary Weddle in photos seen before his nearly 10-year-old beard was shaved, and after shaving on Monday.
EPHRATA, Wash. -- An Eastern Washington teacher who has been on a shaving strike since the Sept. 11 attacks is clean shaven once again.

Gary Weddle had made a vow not to shave his beard until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed.

Weddle kept his word Sunday evening.

"I spent my first five minutes crying and then I couldn't get it off fast enough," Weddle, 50, told the Capital Press.

Weddle was a substitute teacher in Wenatchee when the terrorist attacks occurred on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"When the twin towers came down, I was horrified and I was glued to that television set for several days," Weddle said during an interview with KOMO News in June of 2003. "And (I) realized that not only was I not taking showers I wasn't shaving."

A year after the attacks, he got a permanent job at Ephrata Middle School teaching life science, and by then was sporting a 10-inch beard.

Over the years, the beard grew and grew. At the start of each school year, Weddle told students the beard was a reminder of the attacks.

"If they want to shave it off my body in the coffin, they can, but I'm going to hang on to it," he said back then. "I'm not going to forget, and I'm not going to let anyone forget."

But when the news broke that bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces on Sunday in Pakistan, he wasted no time in finding the razor. He had cut the beard and was shaving the stubble before President Obama addressed the nation.

Friends and neighbors watched him cut the beard. It was his first time shaving in 3,454 days.

Weddle was 41 when he made his vow.

"I wanted him to get rid of it, but it was his vow," his wife Donita said. "I respected his passion and keeping a vow. I was willing to look past the beard because I love him."

Now she said her husband looks 10 years younger.

"It's a very happy moment for us," she said. "It's a very happy moment for the whole nation."