HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. —A 101-year-old man who attended Storer College has received an honorary diploma.

Merrill Pittman Cooper was honored for his achievements at Storer College and beyond in a collaborative effort involving Jefferson County Schools, Harpers Ferry National Park, The Storer College National Alumni Association, the West Virginia Department of Education.

According to a press release from Jefferson County Schools, Merrill Pittman Cooper attended Storer (then a Normal School) as a high school student from 1934 to 1938. His curriculum included college preparatory courses in Latin, biology, history, English, and mathematics.

Mr. Cooper had hoped to attend college, but he had to move with his mother to Philadelphia for financial reasons during his high school senior year. He lived in Philadelphia for the next fifty years, pursuing a career in transportation and rising to the position of union vice president.

In 2018, Mr. Cooper visited the former Storer College campus and expressed regret over never earning his high school diploma. Mr. Cooper’s family members reached out to park staff, who got the ball rolling to honor Mr. Cooper, his time at Storer, and his life beyond its campus.

The recognition took place during a special graduation ceremony on March 19th with Mr. Cooper’s extended family in attendance.

Storer College was a historically black college in Harpers Ferry that operated from 1867 to 1955.