Wingfield forever linked to higher education pursuit

Clinton Wingfield finished high school in 2001 at age 77.

At 81 years old he was getting ready to enroll at Georgia Perimeter College to study computers, but it wasn't to be.

On July 5, a month before class began at the Decatur Campus on Panthersville Road, Wingfield, who lived in Decatur with Eutha, his wife of 27 years, died at DeKalb Medical Center.

His wife said he was really excited about going to GPC.

"He just wanted to do that," she said. "He told me that when he learned how to use computers he was going to teach me. But he didn't want me to tell anyone that he was going to college. He wanted to surprise them when he graduated."

During the application process, Wingfield, a retired General Motors lineman, made such an impression on the admissions team, the college wanted to commemorate his efforts.

On Sept. 13, they invited his widow to the college and presented her with a framed copy of his acceptance letter.

Decatur Campus Provost Felita Williams said they wanted to recognized Wingfield's dream to be a college graduate.

"Mr. Wingfield touched us with his energy, strong spirit and desire to learn," Williams said.

Eutha Wingfield said her husband grew up in Washington, Ga. in the 1930s when education wasn't a priority for African Americans.

"They had a one-room school house and he didn't go far," she said.

He left Georgia for New York when he was 19 years old and was working at the General Motors Tarrytown, N.Y. Plant, when the two met. Their marriage was the second for both. After his retirement in 1986, they relocated to Decatur in 1991 to share a house with his older brother. Once here, Wingfield began pursuing the formal education he never got as a child.

At the Wingfield's Boulderview Drive home, his widow said the framed GPC letter has a position of pride, hanging in the hallway, next to Wingfield's portrait and his GM retirement plaque recognizing his 33 years and eight months of service on the assembly line.

"Everyone who walks down the hall can see it," Eutha Wingfield said.

Relation: 1st cousin 2x removed

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