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

UPDATE: SWAT response in Northwest Austin ends, man hospitalized with self-inflicted gunshot wound

A SWAT response in Northwest Austin has ended, and a man has been hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police first responded to the 4300 block of Canyonside Trail at about 9:17 a.m. after reports that shots were fired. After police arrived, a woman emerged from the house. Officials said a man in his 60s refused calls to come out, and...
FORECAST: A beautiful Sunday, but hotter weather is on the way.

Good morning, Austin! If you were among the thousands who took part in the Statesman Cap 10K today, you already know what a gorgeous day it is. If you are still inside, today’s weather report might motivate you to head out and enjoy what’s ahead. Forecasters are calling for sunny day in Austin on Sunday, with afternoon highs near 74 degrees...
Police investigate shots fired in Lake Pflugerville area; one taken to hospital

One person was taken to the hospital after shots were fired in the Lake Pflugerville area on Saturday night, the Pflugerville Police Department said. Police said they responded to a call of shots being fired at about 9 p.m. in the 18000 block of Weiss Lane, which runs along the lake. One person was found injured, and the Austin-Travis County EMS took...
Austin expands remote council comment program
Austin expands remote council comment program

Open hailing frequencies to City Hall! Beginning in May, even more Austinites will be able to give the City Council a piece of their mind without having to make the trek down downtown — all thanks to expansion of the remote public comment program. “Remote citizen communication makes government more accessible to Austinites,” Mayor...
Transgender bathrooms overshadow Dripping Springs school board race
Transgender bathrooms overshadow Dripping Springs school board race

Three candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for two school board seats in Dripping Springs, where a battle over which bathroom a transgender student should use has overshadowed a typically low-key race. The trio — incumbent Ron Jones, a consultant; incumbent Barbara Stroud, a family law attorney; Trey Powers, a senior mortgage loan...
More Stories