Longwood University makes dream come true for dying father, graduating daughter

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FARMVILLE, Va. (WTVR) – Bob Inge will readily admit he has made some mistakes in life. One of those mistakes, according to the 57-year-old father of two, was when he started smoking 40 years ago.

Inge is now dying from lung cancer.

Last week doctors told him his cancer had progressed to stage four and gave him the option to either continue treatment at the hospital or go home to Crewe and spend his final days with friends and family. Inge chose the latter.

Inge's cancer diagnosis came at a tricky time for his family. His 23-year-old daughter Brittany was set to graduate Saturday from Longwood University in Farmville.

She said she would not attend the ceremony without her father.

"When I found out he was dying I decided I was not going to walk across the stage without him there," Brittany Inge said. "He made my dreams come true. He paid for college out of his own pocket."

Then, she says, a miracle.

Word of Bob Inge's health and Brittany's dilemma had reached Longwood University officials. They reached out to the Inge family, offering a special, private graduation ceremony so Bob could watch his daughter graduate.

Longwood Graduation 01

"When they called me on Friday, I just started crying," Brittany said. "At first my dad wanted to wait until Saturday, but once he realized there was a possibility he would not be there, he was more willing to do it early."

On Monday morning Bob, Brittany and more than 20 other friends and family entered the Rotunda in the Ruffner Building to watch the special ceremony.

Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV presided. There was not a dry eye in the room.

Longwood Graduation 03

"It was amazing," Brittany said. "I just want to thank Longwood because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Bob Inge said he feared he would die before watching his daughter graduate. He said the university -  of which he, too, is a graduate - lifted a huge burden off his mind and provided a huge blessing at the same time.

"I don't think we hear enough good things," Bob Inge said about why he wanted to share his family's story with the world.

When asked about a final message he wanted people who saw this story to read, he talked about family and love.

"The best thing about life is having kids. I have two beautiful kids. Both will be productive members of society. I am very proud of Brit who will go on to teach others," he said.

"It's not the stuff, the cars, the boats. I've had all of those things. It's the people you surround yourself with. It's your family."


  • Cindy

    My biological dad died of cancer due to smoking…he had brain and lung cancer and I remember as a little girl, I told him to stop smoking and he said he knows. He was only 73. We weren’t close at all. As a nurse, I have seen people have surgeries because of smoking! I am so glad to see this young lady celebrate her accomplishment with her loving father. He is and always will be proud of her! God Bless the family!

  • Doyle Hargraves

    Another life taken by Phillip Morris/Altria…makes me sick everytime I drive by that factory on Commerce Road. That company has killed more Americans than any terrorist of foreign enemy, yet we still allow them to prosper.

  • Karen Harris

    God Bless you all. I know how you must feel. I lost my husband just last month to cancer. My granddaughter is graduating from high school next month and she wanted her Papa there to see her graduate.

  • lovinlife

    My heart goes out to the family and the school for making such good decisions about this story, what a happy ending!!!

  • lovinlife

    @Doyle Hargraves….having a father and a stepmom that retired from Phillip Morris is an insult. None of the employees made any human decide to smoke cigarettes their entire life, people decide to smoke by their own choice! Let’s remember, we are responsible for our own actions/decisions. As you failed to read, he admitted that one of his mistakes was smoking 40 years ago, he didn’t blame Phillip Morris!

    • mmmm

      Thank you…..thats like saying any company that produce things not good for you is to blame for people getting killed like junk food and fast food. This is a free country to the extent the you choose whether to smoke or not and you choose the food you eat. You can grow your own food, not go to fast food restaurants, etc.

      • scars

        With those other products (fast food, junk food, even alcohol) there is a safe level of usage. It is only if people consume great quantities that health problems arise. With smoking, there is NO safe level of usage. If the government were not dependent on the tax money that comes from tobacco products, it would have been outlawed long ago. What other industry is allowed to make a product that is KNOWN to kill you if you use it as intended? If adults are free to choose to use a product that can kill them (and non-smokers through second hand smoke), then why aren’t they free to use heroin or cocaine or crystal meth? After all, no one would be forcing an adult to consume those? I’m sorry you feel the need to justify your family’s employment so you don’t have to feel guilty. No one forced your family to work at Phillip Morris. They could have worked elsewhere but they chose to help produce a product that will kill you if used as directed. Personally, I couldn’t trade my conscience for a paycheck — but to each his own, I suppose.

  • llewroca

    So nice to read that my alma mater, Longwood University (Class of 1970), continues to do the right thing for their students, especially for this graduating senior to have a private ceremony with her dying father and family members and friends. In my eyes, Longwood has always been a magical place where I studied to become the first college graduate in my immigrant family long ago. A warm gesture for a lovely family.

  • lovinlife

    @scars…I’m not trying to justify my parents working at Phillip Morris. Their employment has nothing to do with this situation and certainly not your ignorant butt. They chose to work somewhere that paid very well and had great benefits and from all that they were able to retire at the age of 50 and 51 with 6 cars, 2 homes, and able to travel anytime and anywhere they want to. Oh yeah, everything is PAID OFF! We work to have an honest living unlike you. You must be a crackhead since you’re justifying about why cocaine and meth aren’t free to use, I guess you’re mad about that!

  • Todd.S

    Im so sorry mrs.inge for your father you were a good teacher i hope you come back to see us :)

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