In Memoriam: Paul L. Epps, 1916-2014

Paul Epps, the first student to register at what is now Norfolk State University, the historically Black educational institution in Virginia, died on September 16 in Windsor, North Carolina. He was 98 years old.

In June 1935, Epps graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk. He then became the first student to pay his fees and register for classes at what was then the Norfolk Division of Virginia Union University, which later became Norfolk State University. Epps along with two associates went door-to-door throughout the city seeking additional students to enroll at the new school. By the time classes began in late September, there were 85 students enrolled at the new educational institution. Epps was elected the first student body president.

After completing work at what was then a junior college, Epps received his bachelor’s degree at Knoxville College in Tennessee. He earned a master of divinity degree from the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary.

Epps went on to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church and was the pastor of the largest African American Presbyterian church in Los Angeles.


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