Great State: Oldest College Professor in the U.S. Retires on his 91st Birthday

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EDMOND, OKLAHOMA -- Three classes a week for three semesters, that's been Dr. Harold Fletcher's classroom schedule for the past ten years or so.

He teaches a section on Music History at Oklahoma Christian University, but all you have to do is step outside his class to see his influence extend far beyond his only class.

The building he teaches in is named the Harold and Mary Helon Fletcher Center for Music.

Dr. Fletcher has been here since the university's beginnings in 1950.

"I decided very early on that I was going to become a teacher," he says. "And when I got out of the military in 1946 I went back to school on the GI Bill. That was my aim and I just continued."

Oklahoma Christian started in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Fletcher's old boss convinced him to leave a teaching job he had in Florida.

Once at OC, he taught choir.

He taught philosophy, and music history.

A few times he says he almost quit.

Fletcher and his wife, a long time piano instructor at the college, supported racial equality on all college campuses long before the idea became popular.

He says, "I think there were times when they would have been happy if I would leave, but I didn't."

When he turned 90 his family and friends threw him a big party.

He was already the oldest college professor in the U.S. by then, but he'd just started his Music History class and wanted to see it through.

"It's time," he says matter of factly.

"What did you like about teaching?" asks a school visitor.

"Well," he responds, "I like nearly everything about it except grading papers."

Dr. Fletcher doesn't know where the time went.

It seems like just yesterday that he composed the school's alma mater song.

He doesn't care much for all the fuss everyone is making about his retirement.

Fletcher told us he just wants more time for reading and writing.

During our short conversation we both struggle to find the right phrase to cap his career.

Professor Fletcher proved best at searching out the appropriate final thought.

"You close the last page," he says.

On December 4, 2014 Harold Fletcher taught his final class. The date also marks his 91st birthday.

Fellow faculty, including Fletcher's son, friends, family, and former students are gathering after class for a reception in his honor.