Diploma brought smiles and pride to a dying veteran

Joe Bob Allen realized a life-long dream of completing his TROY diploma shortly before his death in early February 2021.

Joe Bob Allen realized a life-long dream of completing his TROY diploma shortly before his death in early February 2021.

When Joe Bob Allen died in early February at the age of 87, he was a proud Trojan and a freshly minted Troy University graduate.

He had just become an official alumnus, having been presented his Troy University diploma – a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with two military science minors based on his Joint Services Transcript. The third minor required for the degree came from his prior coursework at the University.

The degree was made possible due to TROY’s commitment to serving members of the military – both active duty and veterans.

To Allen, it allowed him to make right a life regret at having not finished his degree when his studies were interrupted by the United States Army.

“I have never seen him so moved by something. He was so proud of that,” said Reba Allen, longtime TROY employee and Joe Bob’s sister. “It meant the world to him.”

Twenty years Reba’s senior, she said Joe Bob thought he was her daddy most of the time.

“My brother was a mess. He was fun loving. He loved people. He was a kind, gentle soul . . . and a real outdoorsman. A man’s man,” she said. “You should have seen him when they gave him the diploma just a few days before he died.”

Reba Allen said she recalled the morning she got the call from family, saying that if she wanted to see her brother one last time, she had better hurry.

“They thought he was passing but by the time I got there, he was sitting up on his bed. That afternoon, he was presented the diploma and a letter from Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., by his hospice care nurse, Leigh Shehane, who had initiated the whole diploma process based on things Joe Bob Allen had said to her.

“This entire process has been a blessing from God. Mr. Allen had had a bad weekend after I picked up the diploma. Monday morning wasn’t much better before we gave it to him that afternoon. All of a sudden, he wakes up and has several really good hours,” she said. “We presented him the diploma and I read the letter to him. He was so happy. To be a part of Troy University alumni thrilled him.”

Once Shehane contacted Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Lance Tatum, with the request, he turned it over to Hal Fulmer, the University’s undergraduate associate provost, and University Registrar Vickie Miles. Between the two, they were able to take Allen’s completed coursework and apply the military credits to the record in order to award the undergraduate degree.

“It was one of the best things that (Hal Fulmer) could have ever done for the man,” Reba Allen said. “I want everybody to know how much I appreciate what they did.

“He had a look of absolute wonder when they gave him that diploma – almost as if it wasn’t true; when they read that letter from Dr. Hawkins, he could have burst from joy. I just want to let everyone know how much we, the family, appreciate what everyone did. I know it was expedited, but I believe it was the hand of God directing everyone and bringing things together,” she said.

Joe Bob Allen’s obituary may be found here: https://www.greenhillsfuneralhome.net/obituary/JoeBob-Allen.