86-year-old Dahlonega man goes back to college

5:29 AM, May 7, 2012   |    comments
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DAHLONEGA, Ga. -- He's been alive since the Roaring Twenties, and Allen Fleming is still roaring in his 80's.

Meet him, and you will be instantly smitten.

"I'm Allen Fleming," he introduces himself. "And I live in delightful Dahlonega."

On a typical morning in delightful Dahlonega, Fleming walks the dog, says goodbye to his wife... and then, he heads to school.

Fleming is a junior at North Georgia College & State University. When we caught up with him last Wednesday, he was getting ready for his Mathematical Applications final.

"I'm studying for finals," he said. "I guess you'd call this 'cramming'."

"I'm sure we've had a number of 50- and 60-year-old students and graduates," said Phil Collins, North Georgia College & State University's director of alumni relations, "But 86? Gotta be the top."

Related (Dec. 13, 2011):  85 Year Old Spa Sydell Founder Earns Masters Degree From Kennesaw State University

What kind of man would go back to school as an octogenarian, you ask? The same kind of man that would go skydiving for his 80th birthday, which Fleming did with the blessing -- and financial backing -- of his kids.

His children wound up influencing this latest decision, as well.

"I raised five kids," Fleming said. "And every one of them is a college graduate" -- but not their dad.

Fleming flew in dive-bombers during World War II and prospered as an advertising executive for Sears Roebuck. But he never finished college, which is why he decided to take out his backpack, buy a graphing calculator, and set his sights on finishing a journey he started seven decades earlier.

When Fleming graduates next spring, his degree will ultimately be in literature. But what makes him different than the rest of his peers isn't just his age; it's his mindset. Most college students do not yet know what they will ultimately accomplish in life. This one has already accomplished so much and continues to find new ways to engage himself.

"There's too many things going on that you can find to enjoy," Fleming said. "My going to school is one of them for me."

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