You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Aggies grant wish to dying father in Austin


As a crowd gathered in the driveway of a Circle C home under a brilliant, windswept sky Tuesday afternoon, an unusual ceremony got underway, fulfilling a father’s dying wish.

Jim Brewer, who at 57 is nearing the end of his struggle with pancreatic cancer, watched his daughter graduate from Texas A&M University — his alma mater and now hers. Because doctors said Jim’s time is short, Texas A&M brought the ceremony to his home as dozens of relatives, neighbors and friends looked on, many wearing Aggie maroon.

“One of the last things on my bucket list was to see my daughter graduate, but I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Jim said softly just before the ceremony. “Just seeing her get her degree …”

Brewer’s voice trailed off as he teared up and sat in a wheelchair, clutching a maroon blanket to his chest. Then he turned and greeted yet another well-wisher, including some fellow members of the A&M Corps of Cadets with whom he had served. Some he hadn’t seen in 15 years, he said, adding, “I feel like Tom Sawyer hanging out in the rafters.”

The ceremony started at 1:30 p.m. sharp as Texas A&M Associate Dean John Hurtado, wearing a black robe with a purple sash, stood at a lectern borrowed from Clayton Elementary School, where Brewer’s wife, Lisa, teaches second grade. Lisa Brewer knelt beside his wheelchair and held his hand as their two sons, Nick, 26, and Mike, 27, stood behind them.

“When I heard about this opportunity, I jumped at the chance,” Hurtado told the crowd. He brought a flag called a gonfalon that represents the college of engineering and explained the symbols to the crowd. Hurtado, an aerospace engineering professor, taught Jim’s daughter, Jenny, who is 23 and slated to receive a bachelor’s degree in that subject on May 12.

Hurtado’s voice broke when he turned his attention to Jenny and spoke of her accomplishments and the Aggie values she embodies. Jim Brewer looked on, alternately wiping tears and smiling at Jenny as she stood beside Hurtado in a cap and gown. When Hurtado instructed Jenny to turn around her class ring so the year was pointing outward, Jim touched his own ring, Class of 1980, and gave her a thumbs-up.

Jim Brewer is a civil engineering graduate and worked as a senior project manager at Doucet & Associates. Some of his colleagues were at the ceremony and were among those applauding when Hurtado said: “Jenny, you are now and forever an Aggie. … Congratulations, and gig ‘em.”

Then, Jim, Lisa, Nick and Mike joined Jenny and faced their family, friends and colleagues as they all sang “The Spirit of Aggieland,” a familiar tune at A&M sports events.

“I think it’s just amazing everyone showed up,” Jenny said afterward. “I just want to thank Texas A&M. The Aggies are awesome.”

The ceremony was Nick’s idea. He lives and works in Fayetteville, Ark., but recently came home to be with his family. “The one thing my dad kept saying is he was hoping he would live long enough to see Jenny graduate.”

Just a week ago, Nick emailed a Texas A&M official asking about the possibility of a home graduation ceremony. Nick knew Daniel Pugh, the vice president for student affairs, when Pugh was an official at the University of Arkansas, Nick’s alma mater. Pugh followed through, and Nick said he wasn’t really surprised.

“With the experience I’ve had with Texas A&M before and knowing the kind of people they are, I was optimistic,” he said. “But to get the response from the people I got it from was pretty cool.”

Jim didn’t find out until yesterday.

“We were trying to keep it a surprise, but he (Jim) was having a rough morning yesterday, so we let him know yesterday,” Nick said, adding that his mom and sister were in the room. All four of them shed tears, Nick said.

“This is beyond my expectations,” Jim said, just before his family took him inside and invited their guests in for chocolate cake.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

RM 1431 shut down in northwestern Travis County after crash

Emergency crews shut down RM 1431 in northwestern Travis County on Friday morning after a crash left a man critically injured. According to Austin-Travis County EMS, medics received reports of the wreck near RM 1431 and Azure Highland Road at 7:43 a.m. Authorities arrived and found a man in his 50s with life-threatening injuries. The man was taken...
Former Westlake teacher Haeli Wey due back in court next month
Former Westlake teacher Haeli Wey due back in court next month

10 a.m. Haeli Wey is due back in court on Feb. 3 after Friday’s appearance was reset. Wey appeared briefly in court with her attorney, Larry Sauer, but did not have to go before Judge David Wahlberg. 9 a.m. Former Westlake high school teacher Haeli Wey is scheduled to make an appearance Friday in Travis County district court on two counts of...
Dense fog advisory extended until 10 a.m. in Travis and surrounding counties
Dense fog advisory extended until 10 a.m. in Travis and surrounding counties

9:00 a.m. update: A dense fog advisory set to expire at 9 a.m. on Friday morning has been extended until 10 a.m. as areas of fog continue to hang around in the area. The advisory covers Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties, along with several others along and to the east of the Interstate 35 corridor. Friday forecast for Austin: Areas of...
Follow live: Texas watches Donald Trump’s inauguration
Follow live: Texas watches Donald Trump’s inauguration

The presidential inauguration is here. In a swearing-in ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States.
Wear: Toll road-transit marriage struggles to reach the altar
Wear: Toll road-transit marriage struggles to reach the altar

On the surface, it must have seemed like a no-brainer. Use some obscure federally backed bonds allocated to local governments and the state — low-interest borrowing that no one else planned to tap anyway — and spend the money building eight park-and-ride lots for Capital Metro alongside Central Texas tollways. The gambit has turned out...
More Stories