It was a ceremony more than 50 years in the making. Back in 1944, when Jimmy Dean was a sophomore at Plainview High, he dropped out of school to help his family make a living and joined the Air Force.
But, his hard work soon paid off with a successful career. Dean had his own television show, won a Grammy for his world hit Big Bad John and has several gold records. In the late 60's, he started up one of America's most successful sausage companies; Jimmy Dean.
But Jimmy Dean has felt one important milestone of his life was missing from his wall of fame. His diploma.
If you complete four years of high school marks success. A diploma. Something no one can take away from you. For 56 years, Jimmy Dean, yes, "The" Jimmy Dean of Plainview", sausage man, singer songwriter - for 56 years, Jimmy Dean has been waiting for his success. Success etched on paper. His name marking him a graduate of Plainview High school after 56 years. "Everybody's kinda laughing that a guy 75-years-old is finally getting his diploma. Talk about a slow learner!" Dean says jokingly.
Little do you know, the man towering over six feet tall can cry tears of steel. Especially during this moment. "I extend our congratulations to our most recent Plainview High School graduate, Mr. Jimmy Dean," said Plainview Superintendent.
Dean has waited all his life for this moment because of someone who was in his life. "For my mother. Mostly for me. But for my mom," Dean says trying to fight back the tears. "I dropped out and did the best I could. It hurt me, but it hurt my mother more. She always felt responsible for me not getting this diploma," Dean tearfully says after receiving his diploma.
It would take three tractors to pull Jimmy Dean away from this dream come true. Even after all the gold records he's won, or all the music he's sung. None couldn't be as melodious as this simple black and white piece of paper.
By the way, Jimmy Dean's wife, Donna, helped make all this happen. A new law now allows honorable discharged veterans to receive their high school diploma if they've had to drop out to serve our country. Jimmy Dean did enlist in the Air Force in 1944. The same year he dropped out of high school.
Dean now lives in Virginia with his family.