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Golden Eagle Lovebirds Showcase

2018 Golden Eagle Lovebirds

Karen Nelson Savage and Chris Savage


Random Drawing Winners: Karen Nelson Savage, '91 marketing, and Chris Savage, '94 civil engineering

In the 80s there were not co-ed dorms, but there were, however, brother and sister dorms. I was a resident of White Hall and Chris lived in Miller Hall. The resident leaders of our dorms planned activities for us to do together. We met at one of these activities and became fast friends. We had so much in common and spent time together hanging out most every day and also on weekends. I remember telling a friend that I could never date him because he was too much like a brother to me. Luckily, those feelings changed for both of us, as we soon realized that our friendship had blossomed into so much more. One night, Chris called me from the lobby to come check him in, and when I got there he had a single red rose. He handed it to me and said, "Would you like to go out on a date with me on Thursday night?" Of course, I said "yes!" We dated for six months and became engaged, and then after a year of engagement, we were married in 1989--28 years ago this past August. We both have fond memories of late night strolls on the TTU campus, snow ball fights in the quad, watching movies in the dorm lobby, and ball games. Getting an exceptional education was definitely the key attraction we both initially had, but we got so much more! We got each other!


2016 Golden Eagle Lovebirds


Grand Prize Winners: Carroll Gotcher, '88 music, and Jane Anne (Wright) Gotcher, '87 chemistry
I met Jane Anne (Wright) Gotcher (’87) during football Homecoming 1983. We were both in the Golden Eagle Marching Band and had just marched the pre-game show at the football game. It was raining...a lot. The band was taking shelter inside the band room in the Bryan Fine Arts Building and waiting for halftime. While not “Love at first sight” it was an instant connection. We became close friends and spent many marching band rehearsals smiling and chatting with one another. We ate dinner, as often as we could, together in the University Center Cafeteria. When we did finally start dating, she would study pre-med courses at my apartment while I was in music ensemble rehearsals. After rehearsal, I would walk her back to her dorm room.

Jane Anne graduated in 1987 and moved to UT Memphis for medical school. I stayed at Tech to finish up student teaching in music education. She came for a visit during homecoming. We went to our favorite restaurant, Po’ Folks, and I proposed to her. She said, "YES!" I had already set up the scene with the staff, and they took great care of us during dinner. We came back to campus and went to the music fraternity party. The rock band was playing in the basement, but when we came down the stairs...they stopped and played our favorite jazz tune, “And The Angels Sing.”

We had our rehearsal dinner at Po' Folks and got married on the stage of Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building. Our friends played in the band, we featured music of TTU professor, Robert Jager, and we even arranged for the carillon bells in Derryberry Hall to play the “Tech Hymn” as we left the reception. The “Groom’s Table” featured doughnut holes from Ralph’s--of course.

After medical residency and graduate school, we moved back to Cookeville for Jane Anne to open her practice and me to take the band director job in nearby Gainesboro. We still go to homecoming football games with our children, Kira and Vance, and I bring my marching band to participate in the parade. We held our 20th anniversary celebration in the MultiPurpose Room of the University Center and had the cafeteria cater it!


Random Drawing Winners: Chris Houser, '84 business management, and Donna (Ramsey) Houser, '85 accounting
I proposed on Friday before Valentine’s Day 1985 at the Norris Dam State Park overlook. We were married in Gainesboro at the Burristown Church of Christ on June 22, 1985. We have three grown children: Drew, Jessica and Jennifer. We have one grandson, Jaxon.

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 several accounting problems. Donna was sitting at another table with some accounting majors. I went over to her to ask for help with the problems, and a dialogue started. Our first date was playing tennis on the courts next to Tucker Stadium, and 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 the Summer ’84 term. One of Donna’s two Bs that she got in her college career was in that summer-term class. She blamed it on the distraction of me being in there with her. I continued to make special efforts to court her by doing such things as making late-night runs to Ralph’s to get her favorite donut, the Long John.

I graduated in December of 1984 with a BMGT (MIS) degree and returned to East Tennessee to work with the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, McGhee Tyson Air Base, in the Consolidated Base Personnel Office (CBPO). I joined the Air Guard in July of 1982 and missed one quarter of college while attending basic training and technical school. I also ran cross-country for Tech, receiving two varsity letters. Donna remained at Tech continuing with her work toward an accounting degree with plans to graduate in Spring of ’85. The courtship continued over the next few months with us taking turns traveling to see each other on weekends. I proposed not long thereafter, and we soon began planning a wedding in June. Donna graduated Summa Cum Laude with her B.S. degree in Accounting on June 8, 1985; we were married on June 22, 1985; and Donna then began her first job as a project administrator with Lockwood Greene Engineers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on July 1, 1985.

We have lived in Clinton, Oak Ridge, and we now reside in Maryville, Tennessee. We will have been happily married for 31 years in June 2016. I retired in February 2014 from the Tennessee Air National Guard after 29 years of full time duty, and Donna is currently employed as a bookkeeper with the Blount County School system.


2015 Golden Eagle Lovebirds


Grand Prize Co-Winners: Andy Rittenhouse, '89 mechanical engineering, and Paige (Goss) Rittenhouse, '89 industrial engineering:
Our story is a fun one! Back in 1984, I was a brand new TTU football player who arrived on campus totally unprepared for the grueling three-practices-a-day regiment. All I could do was sleep, eat, work out, run and practice football. To top it off, I was a redshirt player. This meant that I was basically a piece of meat, with no rights or privileges. My lonely and sole purpose in life was to provide the varsity players a way to prepare for Saturday’s game. Life was hard and lonely!

That began to change, however, when school started. Why? Girls arrived on campus! And boy did I notice. I was tired of the stinky football players and exhausting practices. Pretty girls offered a new and welcome distraction. I soon narrowed my focus to Macy. We hit it off and began to date. About that time, I was invited to a student fellowship called Inner Varsity. Macy and I attended just to check it out. As I sat in the meeting, a pretty girl stood up and began to tell how she met God and how he became real in her life. I was mesmerized by her. Soon after, I broke up with Macy and started chasing Paige. We talked for hours outside the library and soon fell in love! She joined a sorority, and I played football. We both were engineering majors. The following year she became a TTU cheerleader, and I began to get playing time on the football field. The games were spent running on and off the field while trying to keep my eyes off the TTU cheerleaders, where my sweet honey was showing off her gorgeous legs. The coaches never knew this, but I used to talk the managers into bringing her water from the field for me. (She thought that was so sweet.)

Our relationship was somewhat rocky, though. I still remember going into my dorm room and complaining to my roommate (Antonio Sinkfield) about our latest disagreement. He would always ask me a simple question. He’d say “House, do you love her?” And I’d squirm and wonder aloud, but eventually have to admit I did. Then he’d say, “Then SHUT UP and go tell her you are sorry and give her a kiss!” Then he’d turn the Motown music back up.

Paige and I spent every minute we could together. She used to send cards to me in the TTU mail with funny renditions of my last name on the front of the envelope (like Andy Outhouse or Andy Doghouse or Andy Rottenshack). Eventually, she got her industrial engineering degree while I majored in mechanical engineering. And even though I was named first team Academic All American in football, I can easily say that the highlight of my time at TTU was falling head over heels in love with my precious little Scott County girl named Paige Goss.

Where are we today? We live in Knoxville and 25 years later, we are wildly and crazily in love. We have seven kids (six boys and one little girl) ranging from 6 to 19, and our oldest now attends TTU. He also is majoring in engineering! Our lives are FULL of activity with sports, school and church events. We are committed to each other and feel grateful to God for every day we have together. We believe our life together is a miracle. Why? We were both raised by single moms! Yep, we are a 25-year miracle!


Grand Prize Co-Winners: Autumn (Ayers) Stacy, '04 multidisciplinary studies, '10 M.Ed., and Justin Stacy, '05 mechanical engineering, '07 M.S., '12 Ph.D.
Justin and I met at a mutual friend's Halloween movie night in Jobe Hall our freshman year, and we have basically been together ever since. However, the most important part of our love story at Tech centers around a particular tree on campus.

There is a tall magnolia tree in the center of campus in front of Henderson Hall. No doubt, others claim this tree as their own, since you can read years of names and initials carved in it's trunk. This tree was the place where Justin and I would meet in our early phase of dating because it was in between the girls' and boys' dorms. We'd meet to walk to the grill together, or to hold hands and have one last kiss before parting ways to go back to our dorm rooms. The branches have of that magnolia have bared the weight of not only sheltering a growing relationship over time, but holding the weight of life-changing conversations.

In 2002, we walked our four-legged, new addition around campus stopping at our tree for shade breaks. In 2003, Justin got down on his knee to ask me to marry him, which I replied to with an eager, "Yes! Yes, of course!" In 2008, I in turn took Justin to our special tree to tell him he was going to be a daddy. We held each other and cried with joy and excitement. In 2010, we moved back to Cookeville and introduced our second child to our special spot on campus during a summer stroll.

Now, almost fifteen years after walking to that spot on campus after our first date, our love continues to grow, flourish and bloom. That beautiful, tall magnolia tree with its shiny leaves, and gorgeous, fragrant blossoms has been a staple of our love story of Tennessee Tech and life there after.


Random Drawing Winner: Somer (Walls) Malone, '00 mechanical engineering, '07 M.S., and William Malone, '99 civil engineering
William and I met early in the fall of 1999 at mutual friends' wedding in Chattanooga. He was a civil engineering major in his last semester, and I was a mechanical engineering student set to graduate in May 2000. We talked at the wedding but didn't make further plans to get back together once in Cookeville.

William worked up the courage to walk through Brown Hall, where I worked in the Center for Manufacturing Research and had most of my classes. He turned the corner from the stairwell on the main floor and ran straight into me working on a bulletin board for ASME. The rest is really history. We spent as much time together as we could before he graduated in December 1999. He got a job in east Tennessee while I continued to go to school, but we still visited almost every weekend.

I continued with my master's degree (2007) and we continued to date until he proposed to me on our one year anniversary in 2000. The proposal occurred on Tech campus on one of the tennis courts. It was a cheap date back then and something we both enjoyed and still do to this day. We were married in May of 2002. Since that time, we have been living in upper east Tennessee where I work at Parker Hannifin and William works at Thompson Litton Engineering. We have two sons and enjoy going back to Cookeville whenever we get the chance.


2014 Golden Eagle Lovebirds


Grand Prize Winners: Eddie Lawhorn, '82 computer science, and Kay (Britton) Lawhorn, '82 secondary education
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, and 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 early to give me a 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" for 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.


Random Drawing Winners: John Shaver III, '79 foreign language, and Annis (North) Shaver, '78 foreign language
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." 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 towards the quad, she asked me to be her date to the 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 1978, and we were married in December 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 found out 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.