79-year-old pastor earns GED


Proud graduate Oscar Perry stand next to wife Betty, and daughters Karen Deems and Deborah Lewis.

NEW BOSTON, Ohio — By any measure, Oscar Perry, of Lucasville, has had a very successful life. The 79-year-old pastor has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a doctorate. But missing from that list was his high school diploma, and that was something that had bothered him for 63 years.

Perry started working on the railroad at the age of 14, and in 1952, after finishing his freshman year in high school, he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to work full-time on the railroad. Later, at the age of 19, Perry was saved in the church, where he met his future-wife.

“The Lord called me to preach. I wasn’t prepared to preach, so the pastor encouraged me to go to Arlington Baptist College in Texas. I finished Bible College with my Bachelor of Divinity in 1960 and I started pastoring in 1964,” he said.

Since then, Perry has earned a master’s degree from Moody Bible Institute and a Doctorate in Divinity. He pastored for 44 years — including 28 years at Rosemount Baptist Church.

“But I always had this idea that one of these days I’m going to finish my high school education. Call it bucket list, or whatever you want,” he said.

Last fall, Perry decided it was time to cross that off his bucket list, and he enrolled in the GED program at Scioto County Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE). The program offers classes at various locations, with flexible locations to meet diverse needs. In addition to helping people complete their GED, Scioto County ABLE also provides services for workplace literacy, corrections education, distance education, and transition services.

Last week, at the age of 79, he completed the program after only five months.

“I feel a great sense of accomplishment and success. I called all my kids and all of my grandkids. I really do, I feel a great accomplishment. When (Instructor Paula Baumgardner) called and told my wife I had passed – I was out, but when I came back my wife said she had called and I sat down and cried. It meant something to me,” Perry said.

Getting his GED was not about getting a job, or getting a promotion. Perry said it just felt like something was missing from his life.

“I’ve got plenty of degrees. But you know what? This is the one I’m most proud of right here. For 63 years it bothered me deep in my heart that I never finished high school,” Perry said. “This is the one that somehow or another is going to find a wall to hang on in my home.”

For more information about the ABLE program, contact them at 740-354-0211, or visit one of their many locations – at the ESC in New Boston, the Scioto County Career Technical Center in Lucasville, or at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. The program works around the student’s schedule and can be as quick or as long as the student needs to complete. Day and evening classes are available, and all classes are free. The student only pays for the cost of the GED test itself, and the ABLE program offers assistance with that fee.

For more information about the ESC, visit online at www.scoesc.org, or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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