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Golden Eagle Lovebird Stories

We want to thank all of the couples who submitted lovebird stories and helped to make our 1st annual Golden Eagle Lovebirds Contest a great success! We also want to thank our outstanding panel of judges.

We hope everyone who didn't win this time around will re-submit your story next year for another chance!

2014 Winners: Eddie and Kay Lawhorn 2014 Runners Up: John and Annis Shaver


2014 Contest Winners: Eddie and Kay Lawhorn

Eddie Lawhorn & Kay (Britton) Lawhorn

Met in 1978

In a backpacking/camping class, fall quarter 1978, the most beautiful woman in the world walked into the classroom. I knew instantly I had to get to know her, which would be extremely difficult since I was/am a painfully shy computer nerd. Luckily, I found her in the cafeteria when it opened in the morning. Mustering up all my courage, I said, “Good morning.” She politely replied, and kept walking. I kept greeting her every day for weeks like that. I never saw her elsewhere on campus. (It turns out she was doing something called “studying” - a foreign concept to me at the time.) At last it was time for the camping trip - surely I’d get to impress her with all my great skills. However, she wasn’t on the trip - midterms were the next week, so she was taking the trip later with another class. Deep disappointment turned into relief as I struggled through the hike, bringing up the rear. On Monday, I said, “Good morning! Would you like to hear about the trip?” She said yes! The ice had finally broken, I got to enjoy breakfast with her, telling her all the details, and getting to know her.

I wanted a date, and agonized trying to figure out what to do and how to ask her. (I’d only been on a couple of dates before, and those were terrible.) The Backdoor Playhouse was going to present “Everything on Pacific Avenue,” which met all the needs. It was close, so we could walk. (That meant my decrepit 1962 Rambler station wagon with 8-track player wouldn’t have to be used.) The play was inexpensive, but suitably classy enough to possibly impress my dream date. I practiced what I would say for days. Then over breakfast, I asked. She said yes, then there was an awkward pause. In all my preparation, I’d had my “Oh, that’s all right” speech down, but hadn’t prepared for her accepting. I recovered from the shock momentarily and told her I’d meet her at her dorm about 15 minutes before the play started.

The night of the play, I was incredibly nervous. I decided to get to her dorm way early, to give me the chance to calm down. As I entered Unit C, she was already sitting in the lobby. Now we had a good bit of time to fill, so we wound up talking about our families, and getting along wonderfully. She was so easy to talk with! After the play, as we walked back through the darkness behind Kittrell Hall, she held my hand and I floated on air. We were inseparable after that.

There’s so much more to our love story at Tech the next year, including saying “I love you” the first time at open house. That summer quarter I was at Tech and I traveled to see her every weekend (and my differential equations grade proves it.) My cooperative education assignment in Louisville, Ky., kept us apart temporarily, but deepened our love.

In January, I drove all night to Cookeville, and snuck into the girl’s dorm early in the morning to propose to her. We married in June 1980, and were back at Tech Village that fall, finishing our degrees in 1982. We’ve been married over a third of a century now, and both our children also graduated from TTU.


2014 Runners Up: John and Annis Shaver

John W. Shaver III & Annis N. Shaver

Met in 1978 in German classes

We were both German majors. Dr. Phillip Campana, Chairman of the Foreign Language Department, was showing me around the language department my first days on campus when I spied Annis at a typewriter and thought, wow she's pretty. Of course at that moment Dr. Campana, advisor to both of us, introduced us to each other. I thought I would never be able to ask her out because she was a year ahead of me—I was a freshman and she was a sophomore.

As the next two and a half years went by, we had more and more classes together. We often had study dates in the library that ended with pizza at Pizza Hut, or doughnuts at Ralph's, but no real dates. I would often tell Annis, "you need to find me a date," and she would respond, "John, there is always me," and I, being the dumb-struck kid I was, just let the statement go right over my head. I would reiterate, "Annis you have got to find me a date." 

Well, in spring quarter of her senior year (my junior year), we ran into each other as we picked up our registration cards. We decided to register together, since most of our classes were the same ones. As we walked from Prescott Hall toward the quad, she asked me to be her date to her Kappa Delta Formal. Finally, the light bulb went off in my head: Hey, you mean we can date; class standing didn't matter! I then almost immediately asked her out for a movie the next night. Our first date was to see Saturday Night Fever. I was smitten and so was she, but we didn't express those feelings right away.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later I, being old-school, asked her to go steady. She didn't reply. (She tells me now that she was already looking for something more permanent!) I took her silence as a no. I had invited her to the ROTC Military Ball, but because of the perceived rejection, I uninvited her (dumb guy). I also told her I did not want to date her anymore since there was another girl that I thought might be interested in me, and she replied "I want equal time!" She wished me a bad time at the ball, and that wish came true. The redhead I took to the ball had only accepted my invitation to get back at her boyfriend, as I found out later. So, I called Annis, apologized, and lucky for me we picked up where we left off and never looked back.

Although, we weren't officially going steady, we stayed true to each other after she graduated and went on to graduate school at LSU. My senior year at Tech with my girlfriend in another state allowed me to focus on my studies, ROTC, cross country, and track. I proposed to her in December of 1978. We were married in December of 1979. (Dr. Campana received the first invitation to the wedding.) Our honeymoon was three years in Germany, all expenses paid by the United States Army. We had such a blast we stuck with the Army for 25 years and it took us all over the U.S. and allowed us to live 11 of those years in Germany. I took her to more Military Balls than we can count and enjoyed each one of them.

For the last nine years, we have enjoyed life in Dayton, Ohio, where I am an Air Force civilian and she is a professor of German at Cedarville University. We still like Pizza Hut the best, and we get doughnuts at Bill's Donut Shop. (We learned that Bill learned the art of doughnut making from Ralph. What a small world!) We often reminisce about our good times at Tech, and especially about the one quarter we dated while there together.


David Mills & Tracey Mills

Met in 1995 at Mechanical Engineering Office, Brown Hall

I first met Tracey when I walked into the Mechanical Engineering office my junior year. Her mother, Judy, worked there and she was visiting her. I didn't know who she was, but I knew I wanted to meet her. We became friends over the years, but never dated. After I moved to my first job, we stayed in touch through e-mail and instant messaging.

One night, she wrote me an e-mail about a break-up with her boyfriend of the time. She said that she was never going to find that special someone. Then she jokingly said that if neither of us were married when we were 30 that we should get married. In a rare moment of bravery, I replied to her "Why wait?"

It was the most nerve racking evening I think I've ever had. The next evening, I came home from work to find her reply. We swapped joking and flirtatious e-mails that evening, but I finally asked her out for New Year's Eve.

We met in Jackson, Tennessee. When she got out of her car, my heart jumped. She hugged me and I knew at that point that I never wanted her to let go. That first date was amazing.

After a couple of flights between Texas and Tennessee, I decided it was time to go ring shopping. I found a very skilled artist who made her a custom ring. It was amazing.

We met up at Reelfoot Lake for me to show her where I grew up. We walked out onto the peer overlooking the lake. I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I almost dropped the ring into the Lake when she said "yes." A little over a year later, we were married in a little white country church.

It's going on 14 years this June and I can't imagine a better friend and lifetime partner than Tracey. Each time we visit TTU, I'm reminded of that first encounter in Brown Hall and the times we shared before we even knew we would spend our lives together.


 

Jamie Garner Koonce & Neil Koonce

Met in 1981 at Cafeteria and the Pike House

As a senior approaching homecoming with no date - I (Jamie) was desperate and agreed to go with a sophomore that I didn't know. I was told to "check him out" in the cafeteria. As I read his last name on a Pike football jersey, I realized I couldn't even pronounce it, but he would do. 31 years later - I now still have that name! I graduated in 1982, he in 1985. After a proposal at Bee rock (Monterey exit), we married later that year. After 28 years of marriage and 2 sons - I'm glad I learned how to pronounce it!


 

Patrick Jennings & LeAnne Jennings

Met in 1995 at Browing Hall, in a mutual friend's room

It was a cold winter evening and my friends and I had finished up working on the TTU Baja car for the day. We were just hanging out in one of the guy's room when he got a call that a couple friends wanted to come up. A couple minutes later this cute redhead walked in the room. I was intrigued and happy I'd bothered to take a shower after getting sweaty and greasy working on the car. We talked for a while and when time was up, I walked her back to her dorm and we shared our first kiss.

We dated (such as broke college kids "date") for the next few years. We continue to see each other after I graduated and went to work about 3 hrs away. I proposed in 2000 shortly before she graduated and we got married the following summer. We've been happily married for 13 years and have 2 wonderful boys.


 

Marion Barger & Richard Papes

Met in 1961 walking across the quad

I was walking across the quad when I saw Richard walking toward me. I knew who he was because he played basketball, so I batted my baby blues and used my very best southern drawl to say "Hi Richard." We both continued on our way. Later that day I was on the tennis courts playing with a friend who lived in my dorm (she was one of the Freshman Class Beauties) so when I saw Rich outside the fence watching us I assumed he was there to see her. At the end of the match he called me over and asked for a date. Our first date was at the Drive-In movie (but that is another story!) We were married in April of 1964 and this year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary.


 

Michael Pigg & Amanda Pigg

Met in 1997 at apartment complex on Cooke St.

Summer of '97, my roommate met our new next door neighbors (two girls), while I was at home for the summer. When I returned to school in the Fall of '97, I met the neighbors as well, and began talking with one of them (Amanda) more and more; usually on the front porch while going to and from the car. Amanda was a music education major, and I was a civil engineering major. So our paths on campus did not cross much, except when I had marching band practice. I enjoyed leaving notes (almost daily) on her car. She was the pianist at a local church (Algood United Methodist), so I began attending church with her and her family. Amanda graduated in Aug 1998. She landed a teaching job immediately at Smithville Elementary. Therefore, we were able to live close by while I finished my degree. I graduated in Dec. 1999, and immediately landed an engineering job in Chattanooga. I moved to Chattanooga for the next six months while she finished the school year teaching. We got married at Algood United Methodist Church on June 3, 2000. She landed another teaching job at Soddy Daisy Elementary. We moved to Nashville in 2003; both have wonderful jobs in our fields; and have two daughters, ages 5 and 11. One sidebar note - while going through some home videos of TTU marching band shows before 1997, we noticed Amanda and her friends were hanging out behind the band in the stadium (because at that time, she was dating another tuba player). It's crazy to see her near me before we ever met. God has definitely had His hand in the plan for our lives together.


 

Dr. Garlan E. Gudger, Sr. & Dot Denning Gudger

Met in 1964 at Student Union

In the fall of 1964 as a member of the Golden Eagle football team, I had returned to Tech early for football practice. My future wife had also returned early after having completed a two-year program, worked for a year, and returned for a four-year degree. I saw her from a distance, worked it so I could meet her, and made a date with her. The young people reading this won’t believe it, but in those days, girls had to “check out” before a date, telling who with, when, where they were going, and they had to be in at a certain hour. Our date was to Nashville to a movie and to eat.

When we returned, all the lights were out, the gates were locked, and (for all you old-timers) Sherlock, the beloved campus cop and the only campus cop, had to let her back in the dorm! We were almost two hours late, something that could have gotten her expelled from school. The house mother told her to see Dean Murphy the next morning which she did. Fortunately, she had been active in TWO during the two years she had been at Tech before, so she simply told the truth—she had remembered the curfew hour incorrectly. Dean Murphy knew that it was the truth and told her to be in her room at 6 p.m. every night for the next two weeks, a light sentence indeed for what it could have been!

I felt so bad about having kept her out past curfew and her punishment that I told her to meet me every day for dinner BEFORE 6 p.m.! Those dinners turned into a romance, and we have now been married 49 years!! We returned four years ago, sat on “Our bench” which is still on the quad in front of what was the Student Union, and had a young co-ed (who I’m sure thought we were too really old guys) take our picture.

Fond memories and we still love Tech!!!


 

Zachary Fox & Kassi Fox

Met in 2005 in Dr. Stephen Williams's State and Local Government Class

My wife Kassi and I first met during the late Dr. Stephen Williams's state and local government class. For those who were not fortunate enough to meet Dr. Williams while he was living, you most certainly missed out, as he was quite an interesting fellow. Dr. Williams was a heavy smoker, who often fought with punctuality while smoking before class on the steps outside Matthews-Daniel Hall. Although he was in seemingly poor respiratory health, he never let his chronic cough get in the way of a class-long lecture, or a well-timed jab at a past presidential administration. One particularly snowy day in January, Dr. Williams made a political joke, much to his own chagrin, and let out a string of bellowing coughs/chuckles. I took the opportunity to scan the room and caught the gaze of a beautiful girl a few rows ahead of me.

We slowly began to know each other by sitting together in class. I would also walk her to her dorm each day after class, sharing stories as we walked, and sometimes stopping in the convenience store inside McCord for a quick bite to eat before I dropped her off at Ellington. She was a sophomore and I was second semester freshman, and although we did not know it at the time, Tennessee Tech would be the backdrop for us to become happily married.

It took us two weeks of walking, talking, and sharing to finally ask each other's names, another week for our first date, and one more week to be in a serious relationship. I switched my major to Political Science so we could take as many of our classes together as possible; I even took a 21 hour summer course load just to catch up and so we would able to graduate on together. We joined the Political Science honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha, together. We minored in Psychology together. We worked out at the fitness center together. We played intramural sports together. We ate dollar sandwiches across the street at Vinny T's on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We were elected to the Student Government Association our senior year together. In fact, the most time we ever spent apart at Tech may have been while we were waiting a few rows apart to walk across the stage of the Hoop and receive our diplomas. We were very fortunate to be able to have so many experiences at TTU, and doing them with a companion made it all the better.

Tech will always have a special place in both our hearts--not only as our Alma Matter, but as the place where we were able to spend time developing as scholars, individuals, and a couple. I proposed to Kassi on the quad in front of Matthews-Daniel Hall one night, after having known her for three months. She walked out of Matthews-Daniel Hall, past that very spot, a little over two years later while walking onto the Quad for our wedding. We met in 2005, graduated in 2007, and were married on the Quad at Tech that same year. Now our degrees hang next to one another in our home office, and we wear our class rings with a great deal of sentimentality.


 

Lisa Witherow Underwood & Terry J. Underwood

Met in 1985 at Intramural fields

I believe that it was part of God's master plan for me to attend Tennessee Tech and to meet Terry Underwood. When I was a senior in high school, Tennessee Tech was not even on my radar screen as a place to attend college. I had already received my acceptance letters from UT-Knoxville and the University of Alabama and was deciding which one to attend, when my mom asked me to take a look at Tech one day as we were driving past Cookeville on I-40. With a roll of my eyes, I agreed. However, I had no intention of attending that small engineering school in that tiny little town!
One visit to Tech's campus, and my opinion changed! I fell in love with the charming campus and its Georgian architecture. Best of all were the amazing people I met! Admissions counselor Jim Gray and journalism department head Earl Hutchinson quickly convinced me that Tech was the place for me.
During my freshman year, although I thoroughly enjoyed my classes at Tech, I went home almost every weekend to Nashville to visit my boyfriend who was attending MTSU. After a break-up with the MTSU boyfriend at the beginning of my sophomore year, I decided that I needed to be spending more weekends at Tech. My roommate and I began hanging out with some fraternity guys we knew and began attending intramural football games to watch the guys play. It was at an intramural football game that I first saw Terry. I remember telling my roommate, "He is cute! I am going to get to know him."
Terry and I began dating in October of 1985, the first quarter of my sophomore year and the last quarter of his senior year. Our relationship lasted through him graduating and moving to Manchester to work as an engineer while I stayed at Tech for 2 1/2 more years to graduate. In November of 1986, when he asked my father if he could marry me, my father replied, "Yes, but only after she graduates from Tennessee Tech." We married on August 6, 1988 - two months after I graduated from Tech.
The best part of our Tech love story is that our oldest child, Zach, is now a freshman at Tech. His entire life, we told him what a great place Tech was and brought him to campus several times for homecoming and football games. As a senior in high school, he had no intention of attending Tech. He told us that Tech was not the place for him. After a campus visit last April, his opinion changed entirely! He turned down seven offers to play football at private, Division III schools in order to attend Tech. Our family's love story with Tennessee Tech continues....who knows....maybe Zach will end up marrying a Tech girl too!


 

Mary Almon Pugh & Linn Pugh

Met in 1958 at Student Union Building

It was the summer of 1958, a freshman, first time on my own, when a friend and I went in the Student Union Building to buy our books, that we were called over to the table of two good looking guys. They said their names were Stinky and Dick and we thought they were being a bit crude. "No," they said, his name is really Linn, but called Stinky because of his last name, "Pugh."
Each time I went to the SS Building, Linn (which I preferred calling him, would stop me and talk and kept asking me out, and each time I was already going out. Finally, three weeks later, after he tackled me on the quad, we went on our first date, swimming at City Lake and out to eat. We went on many dates that summer, movies, walking on campus, sitting on out favorite bench, talking to Sherlock, picnicking at Burgress Falls and Standing Stone Park and more swimming at City Lake.
We dated all summer, but in August, he graduated and took a job in Lebanon, Tenn. We still dated, but also dated others until he gave me the most beautiful ring I'd ever seen. I graduated in December 1961, we were married Dec. 23, 1961, six sons and 49 years later, he passed away. I miss him deeply, but have some wonderful memories of our time together, especially where it all began, Tennessee Tech.


 

Noel Tolbert & Rebecca (Becky) Tolbert

Met in 1961 in Dr. Lee's 101 English Class

"As Noel walked into Dr. Lee's 101 English class, first day of class, first quarter at Tech, June 1961, he was surprised to see his cousin, Jimmy Doran, in class. Jimmy was a friend of Becky's from their high school days and Jimmy says to Becky as Noel walks in, "There's my cousin Noel." Becky said that was the end of Noel's "free life" as she says to herself, "I like the looks of cousin Noel."

Later that first week, a group of students (four boys and four girls) decided to go swimming in the Tech pool during the open afternoon pool schedule and then later that night all eight, in one car, went to the drive-in theater. In those days, you could pack a car for one price on special nights. On our first drive-in theater night, we went with different partners. Becky decided she was switching partners next time and had already worked out a "switch" with one of the other girls. She then told Noel, "You're going with me tonight." Unknown to Becky at the time, Noel had also planned to change dates to her as well. Noel never said a word, switched as he was told and the "hook was set." They continued to date for the next four years, three of those years while Becky was completing her Nursing Degree at Vanderbilt University. They married Saturday, Aug. 28, 1965, just hours after Noel graduated from Tech with a degree in Civil Engineering. Becky had graduated with her degree in nursing three months earlier.

A few related facts: Both Becky's and Jimmy's fathers (James Paris in Civil Engineering and James Doran in Mathematics) taught at Tech. Some say "Noel needed all the help he could get." Others thought that Becky had "set out" to marry a civil engineering student since, after all, her father was a Civil Engineer and all three brothers received Civil Engineering Degrees from Tech. However, Becky wants to set the record straight, she didn't know what Noel was majoring in when she said to herself, "I like the looks of cousin Noel."


 

Larry McClanahan & Betty Marquess

Met in 1962 in The Beacon restaurant

We married at spring break between quarters, March 16, 1963. I graduated in 1965. After moves and two children, we returned in 1970 for graduate school and for my wife to complete her undergraduate. I taught as grad assistant. I later taught as adjunct. Our first two children attended Tech Training. Our youngest daughter was born shortly after We left grad school. All our children graduated from Tech, one also with a masters, as well as a former son-in-law and a daughter-in-law. I brought Murray Cunningham to Tech as place kicker. I have been a member of the Engineering Advisory Board and we are members of The President's Club. We are a Tech family still after almost 52 years of marriage and more than 52 years after meeting and love at first sight there. Our wedding party included my roommate and wife's roommate who married and had children at Tech. Four other Tech alums were in the wedding.


 

Angie (Duncan) Hyche & Eric Hyche

Met in 1984 at University Christian Student Center

During our freshman year at TTU, Eric and I, who had yet to meet, were attending a retreat with the University Christian Student Center. While a group of people were discussing Star Trek, I mentioned that I had never seen a Star Trek movie. Eric and the others in the group decided that the time had come to introduce me to Star Trek. Coincidentally, "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" was to be shown on campus that Sunday night, and the whole group decided to go. As it turned out, everyone in the group cancelled except for Eric and I, so it ended up being our first date! As we walked to the movie, we discovered that we were both from Kingsport, Tenn., but because we had gone to different high schools, we had never met. We had a wonderful time and said we would like to get together again. A few days later, I saw Eric just as he had left Chemistry lab (complete with facial impressions from his goggles). I invited him to play racquetball that night on campus. From that night on, we were practically inseparable. We dated for the remainder of our 3 1/2 years at Tech. Our favorite activities while at TTU included riding our bikes to Burgess Falls, studying under the tree in the middle of main quad (which is sadly no longer there), Eric watching my TTU volleyball games, me watching Eric's Troubadours concerts and donuts at Ralph's. At the end of our senior year, Eric proposed to me under that same tree, and we have been married for 26 years. We will never forget our TTU romance, and we enjoy reminiscing at homecoming!


 

John W. Shaver III & Annis N. Shaver

Met in 1978 in German classes

We were both German majors. Dr. Phillip Campana, Chairman of the Foreign Language Department, was showing me around the language department my first days on campus when I spied Annis at a typewriter and thought, wow she's pretty. Of course at that moment Dr. Campana, advisor to both of us, introduced us to each other. I thought I would never be able to ask her out because she was a year ahead of me—I was a freshman and she was a sophomore.

As the next two and a half years went by, we had more and more classes together. We often had study dates in the library that ended with pizza at Pizza Hut, or doughnuts at Ralph's, but no real dates. I would often tell Annis, "you need to find me a date," and she would respond, "John, there is always me," and I, being the dumb-struck kid I was, just let the statement go right over my head. I would reiterate, "Annis you have got to find me a date." 

Well, in spring quarter of her senior year (my junior year), we ran into each other as we picked up our registration cards. We decided to register together, since most of our classes were the same ones. As we walked from Prescott Hall toward the quad, she asked me to be her date to her Kappa Delta Formal. Finally, the light bulb went off in my head: Hey, you mean we can date; class standing didn't matter! I then almost immediately asked her out for a movie the next night. Our first date was to see Saturday Night Fever. I was smitten and so was she, but we didn't express those feelings right away.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later I, being old-school, asked her to go steady. She didn't reply. (She tells me now that she was already looking for something more permanent!) I took her silence as a no. I had invited her to the ROTC Military Ball, but because of the perceived rejection, I uninvited her (dumb guy). I also told her I did not want to date her anymore since there was another girl that I thought might be interested in me, and she replied "I want equal time!" She wished me a bad time at the ball, and that wish came true. The redhead I took to the ball had only accepted my invitation to get back at her boyfriend, as I found out later. So, I called Annis, apologized, and lucky for me we picked up where we left off and never looked back.

Although, we weren't officially going steady, we stayed true to each other after she graduated and went on to graduate school at LSU. My senior year at Tech with my girlfriend in another state allowed me to focus on my studies, ROTC, cross country, and track. I proposed to her in December of 1978. We were married in December of 1979. (Dr. Campana received the first invitation to the wedding.) Our honeymoon was three years in Germany, all expenses paid by the United States Army. We had such a blast we stuck with the Army for 25 years and it took us all over the U.S. and allowed us to live 11 of those years in Germany. I took her to more Military Balls than we can count and enjoyed each one of them.

For the last nine years, we have enjoyed life in Dayton, Ohio, where I am an Air Force civilian and she is a professor of German at Cedarville University. We still like Pizza Hut the best, and we get doughnuts at Bill's Donut Shop. (We learned that Bill learned the art of doughnut making from Ralph. What a small world!) We often reminisce about our good times at Tech, and especially about the one quarter we dated while there together.


 

Paige Pointer & Mac Pointer

Met in 2007 in Icthyology Lab in Pennebaker Hall

Our story begins in 2007, in a room full of stinky dead fish in the basement of Pennebaker. As I sat there I thought, "Lord please don't let that smell be me." I hoisted my foot to my face and sniffed my shoe. Much to my dismay, that awful smell was indeed me. Upon looking up again I made eye contact with a guy staring at me. I mumbled out, "They smell so bad." (Side note: Chacos reek in the rain) He didn't really say anything. What I didn't know was after that he told all his friends about "sniffer chick" as he called me. This guy, for some bizarre reason thought to himself, "She's weird. I should get to know her better." We had a few classes together, we were both WFS majors, but my concentration was wildlife and his fisheries. Our interaction was limited, I was pretty busy and he was kinda shy, aside from when he actually learned my name. Roll was called in Systematic Botany, "Cynthia," and I raised my hand with the normal correction of my middle name, Paige. During lab exercises he hollered some snide remark in regards to Cynthia. I turned around and said, "What, Frank?!" I had heard his first name too. The next time I heard from him was in a Facebook message. It simply said: "I graduated, you didn't. *Sticks tongue out at you*" I replied with how great it was for the world to have such a mature graduate out there. From there on we talked more and now we have been married three years and have a wonderful little girl together. Now we both wear stinky Chacos that always remind us of how we met in our undergrad days at TTU.


 

Elizabeth (Ayres) Turner & Toby Turner

Met in 2005 at Backdoor Playhouse

My now husband and I met through the Tech Players at TTU's Backdoor Playhouse. We were friends for a long time, but Toby harbored much deeper feelings. I took a bit longer to warm up to the idea of dating, but fate was pushing us together in the form of a one-act play titled "Speak Now." My best friend Ryan was directing the one-act for his Theatre final, and Toby and I were cast together. The story was about this bride, Casey, who starts to get cold feet, so she runs to the roof of her hotel for some fresh air. Her friend Harold finds her and accidentally kicks the shoe propping the door open, thereby locking them up on the roof together, just hours before her wedding. While Casey and Harold are trapped together, they then share their feelings. The one-act ends with them sharing a first kiss with the girl in her wedding dress. Not only was that Casey and Harold's first kiss--that was also Toby and Elizabeth's first kiss! We started dating soon after, and on July 17, 2010, Toby and I married each other on the front steps of the theater where we met! It's been nine years since we met during play rehearsals, and they have been the best nine years of my life! I'm beyond blessed to get to share my life with my best friend and fellow Golden Eagle! Included is a photo of our first kiss on the Backdoor Playhouse stage during "Speak Now" juxtaposed with our wedding day outside the BDPH!


 

Amy L. Sandifer-Szeliga & Robert Reiss Szeliga

Met in 2000 in Ballroom Dance Class/Gymnasium

My husband and I love to tell people about how we met and began dating. We were both students at TTU in 2000. He was majoring in microbiology while I was studying education. We actually met off campus, but quickly realized after talking for a bit that we were both enrolled in the Ballroom Dancing Class that would start the following semester. We thought it was such a coincidence that we met and were immediately smitten with each other and that we were going to be able to have each other as dance partners in our soon-to-start Ballroom class!

We took the class together, and for good measure, we added Golf to our rosters, too! We had so much fun together that semester enjoying these exciting PE classes! With our majors being so different, we probably wouldn't have had the chance to have classes together if it weren't for these cool options!

Rob graduated in the Spring of 2001 and moved to Memphis to go to Southern College of Optometry. I graduated one semester later in December of 2001 and quickly joined him in Memphis. I began working as a teacher and he continued his education working towards becoming an optometric physician. We were married shortly thereafter and enjoyed sharing our first apartment on the Mississippi River and eating lots of good barbecue for a few years.

When Rob graduated, we moved back to Middle Tennessee and now reside in Spring Hill. Rob is the owner of his own practice, Spring Hill Eyecare. I am a first grade teacher in Williamson County Schools and am enjoying my 11th year teaching!

Rob and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary this past summer. We have a seven-year-old son named Jackson, and are expecting our second child in August 2014. We LOVE telling our lovebird story and how much we enjoyed our time at Tennessee Tech. We credit much of our success and our happiness to TTU! :)

Amy Szeliga


 

Christopher N. Houser & Donna M. (Ramsey) Houser

Met in 1984 at Johnson Hall study area

Donna M. Ramsey Houser, B.S. Accounting June ?85 (Phi Kappa Phi)
Christopher N. Houser, B.S. Business Management (MIS) Dec ?84
Donna is from Gainesboro, TN
Chris is from Clinton, TN

I proposed on Friday before Valentine's day of '85 at Norris Dam State Park. We were married in Gainesboro at the Burristown Church of Christ on June 22, 1985. We have three children, Drew, Jessica, and Jennifer.

I was sitting with some Business Management majors in the study area of Johnson Hall in the Spring of ?84. We couldn?t figure out some accounting problems. Donna was sitting at another table with some Accounting majors. I went over to her and asked for help with the problems and a dialogue started. Our first date was playing tennis on the courts next to Tucker Stadium then we went to Burgess Falls that afternoon. Later that semester, she asked me to go with her to the Accounting Club picnic. The relationship really began to blossom when we had Dr. Gary Pickett's Econ. Policy class together during Summer '84 term.


 

Albert Bilbrey & Elizabeth Bilbrey

Met in 2004 at Sociology

My wife and went to high school and had a gym class together. I graduated a few years before her, but we both ended up going to TTU. We began to hang out again when we had a Sociology class together, we were both seeing other people at the time, but kept in contact. We finally started dating after I became a Kappa Sigma and we had reconnected at an event. I was getting my marketing degree and she was pre-occupational therapy trying to get into UT-Memphis. She ended up getting into UT-Memphis and I continued attending TTU. We dated long distance for 3+ years, and then she returned home after graduating. I proposed to her in the home I built while finishing my degree and working. After graduating, I decided that I wanted to serve my country and travel as we had always planned to do after we were finished with our schooling. I joined the United States Coast Guard and we have been stationed in Louisiana, Virginia Beach and now New London, CT, where I am a coxswain. We travel to Cookeville yearly and we still enjoy running around the TTU campus and running the stairs at the stadium as we did when we were younger. We also have a beautiful two-year-old daughter named Lily. We just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary and in may will celebrate our 10 year dating anniversary. And that is our TTU love bird story...to be continued.


 

Joe Rector & Amy Rector

Met in 1973 at Tech Grill

My senior year arrived, and I'd only had a couple of dates during the previous three years. Amy, a freshman, and I attend Parkview Methodist Church, but we never spoke. The minister continued to harass me about asking her out until I called to get him off my back. She agreed for some reason,a fact for which I give thanks to God each day, and we met up a couple of times in the grill before our night out.

We attended an evening Tech football game and later went to dinner. The entire evening I stumbled through conversations and struggled for witty things to say. Amy lived in Cookeville and I drove her home. After a bit of chit-chat, I asked if she would go to homecoming with me. After offering a "maybe," I turned to leave, and she laughed and said "yes."

From that moment on, we were inseparable. Her mother complained that every time she opened the door, I was standing there. We spent time at the grill and at the Ellington Hall, where I was a head resident. After a second date, I told my family that I'd found the woman I wanted to marry.

Even after graduating, I drove back to Cookeville to see Amy each weekend, and we attended games and concerts, and we walked the ROTC marching fields and along the Quad.

On December 20, 1974, Amy and I were married in the sanctuary of Parkview Methodist in Cookeville. Over the years we returned to visit her family, and I made many trips with her and my two children to campus where I told them stories and pointed out our favorite places.

We'll celebrate our 40th anniversary this year. I always loved TTU, and I especially hold it dear for having given me an education and introducing me to the love of my life.


 

Stephanie Vangilder & Nathan Vangilder

Met in 2009 at Maddux/McCord Dorms

I never believed in "fate" or " love at first sight." I was going to earn my degree and live happily ever after with a few dozen feline companions. That all changed a whopping two weeks after I stepped onto TTU's campus as a naive freshman.
The first time I saw Nathan there was a spark. Eww, I know. I remember seeing him standing in the hall so clearly. My heart skipped a beat. Luckily for me marching band had my ticker in tip top shape or that night might have went differently. He was visiting one of my friends, who lived upstairs, when the topic of grabbing some grub came up. Where do you go in Cookeville at 11:30 p.m. if you are hungry? Yep, Taco Bell. Since I had a car I was elected our chauffeur for the evening. Little did I know that the stranger who just climbed into the backseat of my beat up Thunderbird would become my husband. From that night on we were inseparable--like a neodymium magnet. All throughout my years at Tech he was there coaching me through all of the tough assignments and crazy professors. He was there when I got to take the glorious walk across the stage on graduation day and he was there when "the real world" hit me in the face. On our wedding day, he vowed to be there til the end of time.
It's funny how plans don't always go the way you envisioned. I earned my degree and I even have a cat, but now I have an amazing person to share them with.


 

Debra Hummel Sheppard & Charles Sheppard

Met in 1983 at A group of TTU friends took a weekend rafting trip.

A group of TTU friends took a weekend rafting trip.


 

John Matlack & Sally Matlack

Met in 1961

HOW JOHN MARRIED SALLY
I, John, am writing this story of how Sally and I met and will be married 52 years this summer.

Our romance began in the fall of 1961 when we were seniors. It was time for the R.O.T.C. Ball and I really wanted to ask Sally to be my date. I don’t think I had ever spoken to her but I knew who she was and I would see her around the campus. I knew she had had several boyfriends and that she had even been the Homecoming Queen in our junior year. So what chance did I have?

A friend of mine encouraged me to call and ask Sally to the Ball. I was so afraid of her saying “no” that I kept putting off calling her. Finally, I called her at the dorm hoping she would be there and come to the phone. After waiting several minutes, she answered and we had a very good conversation. She even told me that she knew who I was. When I asked her to go to the R.O.T.C. Ball with me, she hesitated. Then she said that she didn’t have her ball gown at Tech but she would see if anyone was going to her hometown for the weekend and could bring her gown back with them. I was going to call her back late Sunday night. I couldn’t believe it when she said that the gown was there and she was excited to go to the ball with me.

After that night, we would meet in the library to “study” and she would eat with me in the cafeteria since I was on a football scholarship. Spring came and graduation was getting closer. Sally was an education major and was sending out letters for possible openings in elementary schools. Since I was in R.O.T.C, I had decided to go into the Marine Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant instead of the Army.


Sally did get accepted as a teacher in a nearby county from where I would be at Quantico, Virginia. But we really didn’t talk about getting married. Again, I was afraid she might say “no”. How could I ask her to marry me? I had no job and no money. What to do?

After graduation, we went back to our hometowns and wrote letters and made phone calls. One weekend, I went to visit Sally at her parents’ home thinking that we had to make a decision.

Sally, knowing how I am about asking important questions, looked at me with her brown eyes and said, “John, wouldn’t you like me to go to Quantico with you?” I could only say, “Would you really marry me?” And I have always teased Sally about asking me to marry her!

We were married in July, 1962, in the Chapel of the First United Methodist Church in Cookeville. That fall, Sally taught second grade on the Marine Base at Quantico and I attended Officers’ Basic School.

And that’s how John married Sally.

JOHN AND SALLY POWERS MATLACK

Class of 1962


 

Eddie Lawhorn & Kay (Britton) Lawhorn

Met in 1978

In a backpacking/camping class, fall quarter 1978, the most beautiful woman in the world walked into the classroom. I knew instantly I had to get to know her, which would be extremely difficult since I was/am a painfully shy computer nerd. Luckily, I found her in the cafeteria when it opened in the morning. Mustering up all my courage, I said, “Good morning.” She politely replied, and kept walking. I kept greeting her every day for weeks like that. I never saw her elsewhere on campus. (It turns out she was doing something called “studying” - a foreign concept to me at the time.) At last it was time for the camping trip - surely I’d get to impress her with all my great skills. However, she wasn’t on the trip - midterms were the next week, so she was taking the trip later with another class. Deep disappointment turned into relief as I struggled through the hike, bringing up the rear. On Monday, I said, “Good morning! Would you like to hear about the trip?” She said yes! The ice had finally broken, I got to enjoy breakfast with her, telling her all the details, and getting to know her.

I wanted a date, and agonized trying to figure out what to do and how to ask her. (I’d only been on a couple of dates before, and those were terrible.) The Backdoor Playhouse was going to present “Everything on Pacific Avenue,” which met all the needs. It was close, so we could walk. (That meant my decrepit 1962 Rambler station wagon with 8-track player wouldn’t have to be used.) The play was inexpensive, but suitably classy enough to possibly impress my dream date. I practiced what I would say for days. Then over breakfast, I asked. She said yes, then there was an awkward pause. In all my preparation, I’d had my “Oh, that’s all right” speech down, but hadn’t prepared for her accepting. I recovered from the shock momentarily and told her I’d meet her at her dorm about 15 minutes before the play started.

The night of the play, I was incredibly nervous. I decided to get to her dorm way early, to give me the chance to calm down. As I entered Unit C, she was already sitting in the lobby. Now we had a good bit of time to fill, so we wound up talking about our families, and getting along wonderfully. She was so easy to talk with! After the play, as we walked back through the darkness behind Kittrell Hall, she held my hand and I floated on air. We were inseparable after that.

There’s so much more to our love story at Tech the next year, including saying “I love you” the first time at open house. That summer quarter I was at Tech and I traveled to see her every weekend (and my differential equations grade proves it.) My cooperative education assignment in Louisville, Kentucky kept us apart temporarily, but deepened our love.

In January, I drove all night to Cookeville, and snuck into the girl’s dorm early in the morning to propose to her. We married in June 1980, and were back at Tech Village that fall, finishing our degrees in 1982. We’ve been married over a third of a century now, and both our children also graduated from TTU


 

Rachel (Spires) Baldwin & Chris Baldwin

Met in 2009

My husband and I met our senior year at Tech. We met at the first football game of the season at the tailgate. We somehow were paired in a game of washers (similar to cornhole), and hit it off from there. To bring it full circle, he proposed at TTU's campus three years later, setting up the very same washers game, borrowed from the friend that introduced us and paired us for the game, and laid the ring box in the center of my game for me to find. We smile every time we pass the football stadium!
Chris Baldwin and Rachel Spires Baldwin, graduates 2009