Most girls dream about the day when their true love asks for their hand in marriage. For Deanna Strakosch, that dream recently came true for everyone to see in the form of a sky-high banner.
Robert Hopkins proposed to Deanna Strakosch by hiring a plane to carry a banner with his proposal of marriage. Hopkins met Strakosch in January 1999 during a night class at Augusta Technical College.
"I had kind of thought we would get engaged sometime this year, but I didn't know when," said the 24-year-old dental assistant and Martinez resident about her 5-year relationship with her boyfriend, Robert Hopkins.
On Aug. 15, Hopkins gathered a few family members, close friends and Strakosch's mother at his parents' lake house on Thurmond Lake, where a plane carrying a banner - "Will you marry me Deanna" - flew over an anxious crowd anticipating Strakosch's reply.
"I remember his brother saying, 'Look Deanna, what's that?'" Strakosch said. "I couldn't believe it. I was so surprised. I started crying and all I can remember saying was, 'Is this for real?'"
After the plane circled the area several times, Strakosch said, her boyfriend got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.
"Of course I said yes," she said with a giggle. "He really surprised me. I would have never guessed an airplane proposal. I must have talked about it for a week."
Before the proposal, Hopkins was extremely nervous, he said.
"I had to go to the bathroom three or four times like 30 minutes prior to that," said the Bourne Toyota finance manager and Martinez resident.
Lynne Parrish, Hopkins' mother, helped him with the proposal, which took two weeks to plan.
"He said, 'Mom, think of something special and unique,'" Parrish said. "I kind of racked my brain. I asked him if he wanted something private and intimate or a crowd. He said he wanted a crowd.''
Parrish said she thought of an airplane proposal because it would be unforgettable.
Strakosch (from right) reacts to seeing a plane pulling a banner with a marriage proposal from Hopkins, who lured her to the lake to witness the event. Hopkins' mother, Lynn Parrish, was present with other family members at her home.
"I've seen (an airplane proposal) on TV, but I had never seen it here,'' she said.
After she made a phone call to Daniel Field airport, she said, she was referred to Gould Barrett, an Augusta businessman who flies banners for the Spotted Cow bookstore.
"He said, 'Yeah, I'll do that,'" she said.
After a date was set, Parrish said, the difficult task was getting everyone to the lake Sunday despite some bad weather.
"We only had a little bit of trouble," she said. "Sunday was a cloudy, overcast day, and it was cold. We had to give (Gould) GPS coordinates so he would have the right place. My biggest fear was he was going to fly over some beach where there were no people."
At one point, Parrish said, Gould could not fly the banner because the "ceiling was low and it had to lift before he could lift," delaying the banner proposal about two hours.
At 2:30 p.m., though, the plane flew by.
The next day, Parrish said, a lot of people were talking about the fly-by.
"I went to the doctor, and she asked how my weekend was and I told her what I did and she said, 'Oh, that was your son who had a plane carrying a banner, Will you marry me Deanna'? A lot of people said they saw it going down Washington Road.''
Hopkins met Strakosch in January 1999 in a night class at Augusta Technical College. He said it was love at first sight.
"We kind of gave each other the look," he said. "We both knew it at the same time."
But there was a problem.
"We were dating other people at the time," Strakosch said.
Hopkins and Strakosch introduced themselves to each other in class and started "talking on and off the phone," Strakosch said.
Hopkins confessed his feelings to his future girlfriend and bride-to-be at a party at his home.
Robert Hopkins gives a hug to his fiance, Deanna Strakosch. Hopkins proposed to her by hiring a plane to pull a banner over his parents' house at Thurmond Lake asking her to marry him. The two haven't set a date but said they are thinking about getting married in Las Vegas.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"He pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, I like you, so now the ball is in your court.'"
Shortly after, Strakosch told Hopkins the feeling was mutual.
"We had been dating for two months," Strakosch said. "I loved Robert; I felt he felt the same way about me. I knew I was going to be with him. I was like, I want a future with him."
"I admire Deanna," he said. "She's a good person. She's real unique and a very loving and caring person. She's like my best friend.''
Although a date hasn't been set, the Martinez couple said they are thinking about tying the knot in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Hotel. Hopkins said he's already looking forward to his plans.
"Being a good husband and a father,'' he said.
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