ORANGEFIELD, Texas -- A 1945 Orangefield High School graduate who never experienced the pomp and circumstance of his graduation got a big surprise Friday.
Abner Simon, 89, was drafted in 1945 just a few months shy of commencement exercises at Orangefield High School.
Following the war he went on to receive a GED and a college degree before becoming a Baptist preacher.
When Simon, who went to war 71 years ago thinking he did not have a diploma, stopped by the Orangefield Independent School District office Friday to get a copy of his transcript he got a big surprise and a little something else.
It turns out that school officials back in 1945 officially listed Simon as a graduate but no one ever told him about it.
When Orangefield superintendent Dr. Stephen Patterson heard about Simon he called in the school board to sign his diploma.
But Dr. Patterson didn't stop there.
He called in the Orangefield band and the entire student body and Simon was treated to an impromptu high school graduation ceremony.
Simon, who was in town visiting his older brother. even wore an Orangefield cap and gown while sitting nearly alone on the gym floor except for the t-shirt clad principal who presented him with his diploma.
Simon, who still preaches today in Richmond, Va, is now officially considered part of the graduating class of 2017 at Orangefleid High School and has been invited to come speak at the school's May 2017 graduation.