A Very Special Graduate Gets Diploma at Last

August 01, 2012 | Liesl Vistaunet

Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) opened its doors as the Doremus Union School for the first time in the fall of 1910 in Portland, Ore. Two months later, a child was born to the young Blair family.

They named him Orville Blair. When he was ready for school, the family made sacrifices in order to give him an Adventist education.

When he was 18 years old, the Great Depression hit home, and Blair had to drop out of school during his senior year. He literally worked to bring food to the family table. Blair went on to get married, raise a family, and eventually have grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

When his three great-granddaughters needed a home, he and his wife, Evelyn, opened up their hearts and raised them as their own.

Blair never did finish high school and, as far as anyone knows, at 101 years old, he is the oldest living attendee of PAA.

The rest of the story is that the youngest of those three great-grandchildren, Courtney Meske, is a member of the graduating class of 2012. She was only 18 months old when she came to live with her great-grandparents.

Although Blair was in the hospital two days before, he and his wife were present for Meske's graduation consecration program. They did not know that there was a very special presentation planned.

The crowd that night was so moved that they stood and clapped as Gale Crosby, PAA principal, made his way off the stage and through hundreds of people cheering for Blair as he was at last handed his PAA diploma and made the oldest living PAA graduate.