A degree interrupted: 88-year-old man finishing college

The Rev. Horace Sheffield began his college career at Shorter University in 1959 and finally got the chance to finish his degree

“I’m going to put my hands up and say praise the Lord, hallelujah - it’s over.”

He won't be the youngest face in the crowd, but 58 years after Horace Sheffield started at Shorter University, Horace Sheffield will finally graduate on Friday.

The 88-year-old was ordained back in 1946. That same year, he graduated from Tallapoosa High School.

In 1959, he enrolled at Shorter University, but left without a diploma in 1965.

"I had some daughters that were getting ready to go to college and I couldn't go to college and put them through, so I dropped out with 115 hours,” he said.

The reverend - guided by his religion -- wanted to take care of his family first. He remained the family's cornerstone for decades.

Horace stayed by his wife Bernice's side for 68 years until she succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago.

But after more than 70 years of teaching the Bible and giving back, the reverend started doing something for himself two years ago.

He re-enrolled at Shorter University in Rome, Ga.

"Sixty years later I want that degree, and I'm going to get it Friday,” he said.

Jill Worthy Brazier, one of Sheffield's five grandchildren, said she already dreamed of her grandfather walking across the graduation stage.

"I know he is going to have his arms up and screaming, shouting, and if he could jump off the ground, I'm more than positive he would do it,” she said.

In his moment of celebration Friday, Sheffield says he will keep Bernice by his side.

"She was a better part of my life, and I will miss her,” he said. “When I get to the party I'm going to say there are several people missing and my wife is going to be the first one that is going to be missed."

This 88-year-old said he went back to school simply because he wants the diploma.

"I stay in bed until 11, 11:30. I said this is the height of laziness,” he said. “My daughter said, ‘No, that is retirement.’”

And he has no plans of giving up retirement.
          
Sheffield says he wouldn't be graduating without his tutor, Amanda Brannock, who demanded he earn straight A.

After starting college in the time of typewriters, he finished through online classes with his tutor setting up his internet service and helping submit his assignments.

Of course, the reverend's degree will be in Christian studies.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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