Richmond man graduates high school 72 years later

Richmond man graduates high school 72 years later
Reverend Abe Simon's photos and documents (Source: NBC12)
Reverend Abe Simon's photos and documents (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Reverend Abe Simon, a pastor at Clover Hill Baptist Church in Richmond, graduated high school last year, 72 years after what should have been his actual graduation date.

Simon didn't get to graduate high school because he was drafted during World War II in 1945.

He has lived in the Richmond region for decades, but his life began in Orangefield, Texas, where he attended Orangefield High School.

"On my 18th birthday, I was drafted," Reverend Simon said.

Last fall, Reverend Simon went back to his hometown for a visit, where he decided to stop by his old high school.

"I asked the young lady if I could have a copy of my grades, and she said, 'When did you graduate?' I said, 'Honey, I didn't.' " Reverend Simon said.

The secretary told Simon to come back. An hour later, she gave him more than a copy of his grades.

"So I came back. They had the marching band, and they had the high school in the gym. They had my cap and gown and my diploma," Simon said.

Simon will go back to Orangefield High School in May to walk with the class of 2017 and give the commencement address.

It's an opportunity and an act of kindness that touches Simon's heart as he gets to do something he has always dreamed of doing, graduating from high school.

Simon's 96-year-old brother, who also was in the service and didn't graduate high school, will graduate this year.

The school was able to give the brothers a diploma because of state legislation that allows World War II veterans who left high school to fight, as qualified to get a diploma.

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