A 120-year-old oak tree stands on the campus of Texas A&M University-College Station. Its majestic limbs stretch out over the sidewalk and lawn creating a canopy of history.
Steeped in tradition, the legend states if a guy walks under the tree with a girl, she will be his girlfriend.
“If you walk under the tree with someone you are going to marry, you will be together forever,” added newlywed Cooper Terrill, Williamson County extension agent and a graduate of Texas A&M. “I was raised an Aggie, my dad is an Aggie and so it holds a special place in my heart.”
The tree took on a whole new meaning when he took his girlfriend, Amanda Loggins, to campus on Labor Day weekend 2015 to propose to her under it. Cooper said the trick is to get your girlfriend to the tree without her knowing it, so he devised a ruse. He told her they were going to have a romantic dinner at the top of Rudder Hall, a campus restaurant that gives its diners a panoramic view of the campus and beyond. But the restaurant was closed that weekend.
“We parked near the tree and had to pass under it to get to the restaurant,” he said. “I asked her if she would like to walk under the tree with me.”
Amanda was very familiar with the tree and its story. She comes from a family of Aggies and she knew about this famous Texas oak. “I had asked him if he ever walked under the tree before and he said ‘no,’” said Amanda, who will graduate from Temple College with her associate’s degree in nursing this year. “I said when he does, it better be with me.”
As they were walking toward the restaurant, Cooper took a slight detour and walked Amanda under the tree.
“It was really special,” she said. “I didn’t know he was going to pop the question that day.”
Cooper was very serious, Amanda recalled. She also said she didn’t see anyone else on campus at the time. But somewhere in the background was a photographer friend of Cooper’s waiting for the right time to capture the moment.
“I brought a Kendra Scott bag with me because she likes Kendra Scott jewelry,” Cooper said, admitting the bag was empty and only meant to distract her while he took the engagement ring out of his pocket. Before Amanda could figure out what wasn’t in the bag he knelt down on one knee and proposed.
“Oh my gosh,” Amanda exclaimed, as the photographer captured the moment.
A blind date
Cooper was the agricultural extension agent in Falls County attending a state meeting in Lufkin when a mutual friend, Sheryl Long, the extension agent in Hill County where Amanda lived at the time, told Cooper she had a girl for him.
“Amanda and I were at dinner one night, and it kind of came to me that her and Cooper’s personalities would be a perfect match,” Long said. “I told Amanda I had a friend who is an extension agent who is tall dark and handsome who would be perfect for her. She was open for it. She and I were best friends, and I knew if Cooper and I got along well, they would do the same.”
“One thing, I like to joke and have a lot of fun,” Cooper said. “Sheryl said my honesty and openness would match with Amanda.”
“I’m a little quirky too, and I like to have fun,” Amanda said.
In turn, Long told Cooper she had an awesome girlfriend who’s gorgeous with long dark hair and asked if he would be interested in meeting her.
“Amanda and I hung out for years, played the dating game,” Long said. “I’m happy to see my friends together and that they found their perfect match. Now we get to go on double dates, so that’s fun, too.”
“We matched very well, we had a lot of the same interests,” Amanda said, adding that whomever she met had to know how to dance.
The couple met on a blind date in Waco at the Wild West nightclub to enjoy a live concert and dancing.
“I was taken aback. She was beautiful,” Cooper said when he first saw Amanda.
“I thought he was handsome,” Amanda admitted.
They talked a bit, listened to the concert and danced a lot that night. “Dancing worked really well,” Amanda said. “It was easy to follow him, it was refreshing.”
“I’ve learned how to dance all my life because it’s a big deal when you meet someone that you can dance,” Cooper said.
They stayed until closing, then talked a bit in the parking lot. When Cooper walked Amanda to her truck, he held her hand, spun her around in a circle, pulled her in to him and kissed her. “I thought I was being very smooth,” he said, smiling, his eyes twinkling.
“I had the same idea,” Amanda added, blushing just a bit.
It didn’t take long for Cooper to ask Amanda on a second date the next day. She was working three-to-eleven as a licensed vocational nurse at a nursing home and met Cooper at a local restaurant for lunch before starting her shift.
A lot of phone calls followed and he would bring dinner to her during the long nights she worked the second shift. Sometimes he would bring her a Dr Pepper. “And I still do,” he quipped.
By Christmas 2014, Cooper knew he wanted to marry Amanda, but he waited, secretly looking at rings.
“I knew after four months that she was the girl for me,” Cooper said. “One thing about her that has increased every day is that she makes me want to be a better person, a better man, and that’s something I’ve never felt with anyone else I’ve been with.”
Hearing this for the first time, Amanda looks at her husband and sighs a bit, and flashes him a big smile.
Amanda said there wasn’t a “pivotal moment” for her, but rather, she said he just fit.
“He’s my go-to. I’m very chaotic and he calms that, he balances me,” she said.