Of the nearly 1,300 students who graduated from Union High School May 13, Leo Johnson stood out.
That’s because the longtime pastor of a small church in north Tulsa is 60 years older than the other graduates, who included two of his grandchildren.
Johnson, 77, delighted in surprising the thousands of people watching the ceremony at the BOK Center.
Only a handful knew Johnson’s secret before his name was called during the superintendent’s commencement speech. He kept it hidden from family members in the audience. He even kept it hidden from the graduating grandkids sitting within shouting distance of him.
“It was tough to keep a lid on it, I tell ya,” he told the Tulsa World.
But the surprise was worth the wait. Johnson’s grandchildren are partly his inspiration to go back to school. He wanted to make the moment as special for them as possible.
As they grew up, it became difficult for Johnson to encourage them to finish school, knowing he never did all those years ago. He feared his failure would demotivate them. Yet when they asked about his graduation experience, he told them the truth.
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