An Ephrata schoolteacher who had grown a beard he said he wouldn't shave until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed, has finally shaved.

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Gary Weddle made a promise on Sept. 11, 2001.

Weddle, a middle-school science teacher in Ephrata in Eastern Washington, proclaimed he would not shave until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed.

On Sunday night, while outside looking over his rose bushes, Weddle heard what he’d been waiting nearly 10 years to hear: Bin Laden was dead.

Weddle went straight for a pair of scissors. After 3,454 days with a beard, Weddle needed 40 minutes, the scissors and four disposable razor blades to make the long, shaggy beard history.

He had made the promise to keep the beard, but he said he’s glad it’s gone “because every time I looked at it, it reminded me of death and destruction.”

Weddle, 50, said he was so upset by what he saw after the Sept. 11 attacks that he couldn’t eat, shower or shave. He decided to keep the beard so people wouldn’t forget about the tragic events of that day.

But the beard began to resemble bin Laden’s. And some people thought Weddle was homeless.

“As time wore on, I was worried I was gonna end up being buried with this darn thing,” he said.

Weddle, who lives in East Wenatchee, was a substitute teacher when the attacks took place. He has taught more than 2,000 students in the past 10 years. The students now at Ephrata Middle School were 2 and 3 years old when he made his pledge.

“I’ve been at this school for 10 years, and nobody’s known me without a beard,” he said.

The school’s staff was surprised at his new look.

“They said I looked 10 years younger.”

David Krueger: 206-464-2212 or