Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With cancer-stricken dad, Robinson High grad gets special ceremony at home

TAMPA — Corey Varnedoe stood at his father's bedside Friday, decked out in cap and gown as Robinson High School principal Johnny Bush struggled to read the words that would confer his degree.

Varnedoe, 19, will walk with the 331 members of his graduating class Monday, but his parents cannot attend. Edward Varnedoe is bedridden with end-stage brain cancer. As his health deteriorated in the last week, the family worked with a Robinson assistant principal on a last-minute graduation ceremony at their South Tampa home.

Since elementary school, Varnedoe has imagined his parents seeing him graduate from high school. And they did, as tearful friends and family huddled around. Accomplishing his goal bore even more significance following his father's December diagnosis.

"That was everything," he said of the ceremony. "That's the only thing I could ask God for."

After graduating, Varnedoe set down his diploma to kiss his father's hand. Edward Varnedoe is not talking much anymore, but he told his son he loved him.

"He's the baby," said Robin Varnedoe, Corey's mother. "Nobody should have to go through their dad passing away."

Both parents and their older children are also Robinson graduates. The Varnedoes and Bush hugged often before the principal headed back to school.

"I didn't think the principal was going to come," Corey Varnedoe said. "I'm very appreciative."

Bush has a 25-minute speech ready for Monday's graduation, one that he said he could probably zip through without getting choked up. But a paragraph he read Friday, one that officially pronounced Varnedoe a graduate, got to him.

"I was like, 'Where'd my throat go?'  " Bush said, describing his difficulty in reading the words.

Last year, Bush delivered a student's diploma to Tampa General Hospital. But a home ceremony, he said, was a first for him in three years at Robinson's helm.

Bush described Varnedoe as a hardworking student in and out of the classroom.

"We're just very proud of him, and we're glad his father could be here to see him," Bush said.

Varnedoe, a high school ROTC member, plans to enlist in the Air Force, just like one of his older brothers.

But first, he expects to spend the summer at home, surrounded by family.

"I have such a good family watching over me," he said.

Julie Kliegman can be reached at jkliegman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401. Follow her on Twitter @jmkliegman.

With cancer-stricken dad, Robinson High grad gets special ceremony at home 05/30/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 30, 2014 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.