While most teenagers are dealing with SATs, zits and embarrassing body odors, these high schoolers were also beginning relationships that would turn into lifelong partnerships. Here are their stories and advice.
Tracy and Tina Cox (’77)
Tracy and Tina Cox started to get to know each other as sophomores in their French class in 1975. Tracy took Tina to homecoming and prom, but they dated around in between.
After graduating, they both attended Texas A&M University. Their relationship started to get serious, and just two years after graduating in ’81, they were married.
Returning to their home, Lake Highlands, the Coxes had their first son, Steve, in ’86 and daughter Alicia in ’88.
Steve Cox married his high school sweetheart, Cecilia Stewart. They both graduated from Lake Highlands in 2004. One of their classmates and good friends, Michael Goad, married Alicia when they reconnected after college. Tracy says he’ll never forget when he had to call Steve and tell him that his sister was dating his friend, something Tracy wouldn’t have approved of when they were still in high school.
Their advice: It’s all about commitment. You just commit to each other and commit to work through any and all issues and just love each other at all times.
2. In sickness and in health
Bill (’89) and Renee (’87) Barfoot
Bill and Renee met in the youth group at Lake Highlands Methodist Church during middle school. They started off as best friends, until one day Renee told her friend Tina, “I think that I like really like Bill Barfoot.” Unfortunately her friend also had eyes for Bill, but she graciously stepped aside and said, “I’ll let you have him.” To this day, Renee still jokes with her friend that she’s the reason she and Bill are happy.
However, after Bill came down with a case of the chicken pox, Renee broke up with him. “I cannot remember what in the world got into me, and I would kill one of my daughters if they did that to a boy now,” Renee says.
They got back together, broke up a few more times during high school and college, but broke that streak after getting engaged during Bill’s senior year of college.
Bill and Renee moved back to Lake Highlands and had their two daughters, Caroline who is a senior at LHHS and Ellakate who is a freshman.
“[It was] one of the biggest tests we’ve ever had in our relationship. He was such a rock, and I ended up having to handle a lot of the details. He just always reminded me what was important: That we still had our kids and each other,” Renee says. “We still find time to laugh and be silly.”
Their daughters have carried on that positive and resilient attitude. Caroline wrote in her college admissions essay that if she could redo the past year, she wouldn’t change the fire because it brought her family closer together.
“If our marriage can survive me breaking up with him for having the chicken pox and our house burning down, then it could survive anything,” Renee says.
Their advice: Trust is important. Don’t take anything too seriously and find the humor in every situation.
3. Band hall marriages last
Charlie (’79) and Meredith Stimson (’80)
They started dating when Charlie was a junior, and Meredith was a sophomore.
Things started to get serious at the end of Charlie’s senior year. They went off to separate colleges. Meredith went to Texas A&M, and Charlie transferred there eventually. A couple years after graduation, they got married.
“She was really, really cute. Still is,” Charlie says. “I think we just hung around together in a friend group and got to know each other better there. Marriages made in the band hall last.”
Charlie’s sister, Susie, was class of ’74 and married her LHJH bandmate as well.
Their advice: Forgive often. Show each other grace, and try to do things that aren’t just fun dates. Find out, “What’s he like when he’s frustrated? What’s she like when she’s tired?” That’s real life, more so than dating. Try to have a tender heart with one another.
4. Yin and yang
Bonnie and Ian Maddison (’14)
Who knew the 2010 Freshman Center production of “Once Upon a Mattress” would result in a marriage? Bonnie, the court jester, and Ian, the silent king, became good friends after their acting debuts but began dating a few years later during their junior year.
“My favorite thing about my husband is that he’s really funny,” Bonnie says.
One day during lunch, Ian had Bonnie laughing so hard that she spit green tea all over him and his math homework. He went to class next period having to explain to his teacher that his girlfriend’s spit had soaked his homework.
On Feb. 23, 2019, the young couple showed their old souls in their vintage-inspired wedding at the historical Daniel H. Caswell House in Austin.
The bride wore a vintage inspired gown, and the groom wore a red velvet tux jacket, and a jazz band played tunes for the cocktail hour.
Bonnie is working on her Master of Arts in mental health counseling at St. Edward’s University. Ian works at Emmer and Rye restaurant and is applying to the Austin Fire Department.
“I love that he’s very calm and levelheaded, and we’re very yin and yang,” Bonnie says. “He keeps me grounded, but I’m able to get him excited about things that he’s never gotten excited about.”
Their advice: You have to stop expecting your partner to read your mind. A lot of people have this expectation that their partner will know what they want and how they want to be loved. You have to put it out there in black and white what you want from your partner. Everyone has a different love language. Everyone needs to be loved differently.
5.Lake Highlands is their nest
Gabi and Will Buehring (’02)
Gabi and Will met during their first class at the Freshman Center, biology. Gabi was coming from St. Patrick Catholic School and Will from LHJH.
They went on their first date to watch the movie “The Skulls” and ended up holding hands for the first time. What they didn’t know was that Will’s mother, father and brother were sitting just outside the movie theater waiting for Will. He had accidentally missed his shift at work, so Gabi rode home in his mom’s minivan.
Fortunately, Will kept his job at NorthPark where Gabi also worked throughout high school. They often took lunch breaks together.
On June 5, 2003, the couple got engaged, and they married a few years later. They bought their first home in Lake Highlands, and they now have three children: Liam, 9, Jackson, 7, and Ella, 1.
“Everything we’ve ever done in our life has been in Lake Highlands,” Gabi says.
The couple is active in the community. Gabi joined Lake Highlands Early Childhood PTA, the 100 Women of Lake Highlands and just recently, the Junior Women’s League. Will has been active in the Knights of Columbus for five years. They were initial investors in Cedar & Vine Community Kitchen and Cocktails.
Gabi and Will also won the longest couple award at their 10-year high school reunion.
“We grew up together. We went from being children to adults. We had to learn how to grow and become our separate selves and appreciate our separate selves,” Gabi says.
Their advice: You can’t change anyone; you fell in love with them for who they are. Happy wife, happy life.
6. Get their kicks
David and Lisa Prusha (’83)
Following graduation, the pair attended Texas A&M and graduated in ’87. Lisa taught at Skyview Elementary, and David still works as an architect at HKS, Inc.
They have a daughter, Brynn, who is 27 and a son, Evan, who is 24. Growing up, Lisa says they never needed a babysitter because both sets of grandparents stayed in the Lake Highlands area.
“Some people say it’s a disadvantage, but it’s been an advantage for us,” Lisa says. “We’re able to laugh and reminisce about things that happened in high school. We had that six-year relationship.”
She says having a solid friendship before making those adult choices was a perk of a high school relationship.
Their Advice: Keep a sense of humor with yourself and your relationship. Keep the friendship in your relationship.
7. Second chance
Doug (’78) and LuAnn Bergman (’79)
Doug ended up searching for LuAnn, only to find out that she was sick and out of school for an entire month. When she returned, Doug asked LuAnn out, but after showing up to her house, he realized that she had stood him up. LuAnn’s dad did magic tricks to occupy Doug. “But I never forgot about her,” Doug says.
Fast forward a few years later. It was Memorial Day weekend, and Doug’s friend Carter approached LuAnn. They still don’t know how, but the friend remembered that she was the girl who stood Doug up all those years ago. LuAnn said, “No, that couldn’t be me,” but when Doug mentioned her dad doing magic tricks, she knew it was true. Quickly after their reintroduction, they became good friends.
LuAnn called Doug to keep her company because she was nervous on her first night in her new apartment, and he never left. They went on to become best friends and partners, both in life and business. They run a video production company together.
After Doug’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016, they moved back into her Lake Highlands home to take care of her, and they still live in the home today.
Their advice: Be friends. Trust each other. Know each other. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Say “please” and “thank you.” Respect each other.