TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – An incredible milestone for a local World War II veteran. Bob Barger is graduating from The University of Toledo this weekend. The Navy vet is the oldest graduate in school history.
It’s been nearly 70 years since Bob was in a college classroom, but he’s receiving his diploma Saturday. It’s an incredible story of perseverance and friendship, 68 years after he stopped going to college, 96-year-old Bob Barger is getting a diploma, “I never thought I would live to see this day. It’s a miracle!”
This chapter in Bob’s life started after he struck up a friendship with Haraz Ghanbari, the head of Military and Veteran Affairs at UT, “He’s always witty, he’s quick on his feet and good with a joke. He greets you with a smile every time you see him.”
Over dinner one night, Haraz asked Bob what school he graduated from.Bob said he stopped school to focus on work and family. Not long after that conversation, the search for Bob’s records at UT started, “We were able to retrieve his transcripts from the archive. He attended UT from 1947-1950, so his records were on microfiche.”
If all this isn’t impressive enough, we caught up with Bob at Ottawa Park today as he hit the links. He’s still active in an American Legion Post league, “I can still chip and put with the guys. I can’t drive hundreds of yards anymore, but I play with some guys who still do.”
Now back to that diploma . Where will he put it? Right next to something else that was a big part of his life, “it will be in my room right under my certificate from when I became a Naval aviator. It will also be near a picture of one of the planes I flew.”
Bob plans to walk on to the stage to get that diploma, “I will just put one foot in front of the other, and keep going I guess.” His friend Haraz will be by his side to help make that happen, “I will be there to escort my friend on stage to get his diploma. It will be a real honor to do that.”
So while his golf game may not be what it once was, when it comes to the game of life, Bob Barger is a winner. We could all learn a few lessons from him too,”Always treat others the way you would like to be treated. This old world wouldn’t be worth living in without family and friends. I have been very fortunate in that regard.”