Third time's the charm for MSU alumnus' surprise at the Rock
Twenty-one years, three tries and a wealth of determination was all it took for MSU alumnus Glenn Eyre's rock painting plans to fall into place. Although the Rock on Farm Lane has been painted time and time again, serving as the stage for students to display information about their cause or organization, Glenn Eyre's plans for his now-wife and MSU alumna Jenny Eyre didn't pan out without extra effort.
"How about it?"
With paint-stained, shaking hands, Glenn Eyre fished for the engagement ring in the front pocket of his pants while driving south on Farm Lane on Jan. 26, 1996. Upon getting close enough, he prompted his then-girlfriend to check out the Rock.
Instead of the frazzled, gleeful response expected from a surprise marriage proposal, Jenny said questioningly, “Yeah, row against AIDS?”
Defeated, Glenn turned left onto Auditorium Road and parked the car.
Glenn and Jenny went on their second date at senior prom at John Glenn High School in Bay City, Mich. Tackling college in East Lansing together was the next chapter. After, they decided to settle down to raise a family in Laingsburg, Mich. About 20 minutes northeast of campus, Glenn described their home as close enough to stay involved and get down to the university but far enough to not have to deal with it every day.
He explained they love having the college town, filled with energy from the youth coming through, as an option.
Glenn said the couple bleeds green.
He said the timing of his proposal was kind of spur of the moment. In preparation, Glenn and his buddies were out hopping from Crunchy’s to Plum Crazy Sports Bar the night before. The ring had been purchased, so he took advantage of a night out without Jenny. He didn’t inform his friends of the plan until they were already out for the night. At 3 a.m., the group spray-painted "Jen, how about it?" on the Rock.
The next morning, he asked Jenny to drive him to his 8 a.m. class.
"Normally, I would've skipped it," Glenn said.
The proposal idea came about because Glenn didn’t want to do the cliché baseball game or nice dinner, he said. It was like the Spartan connection.
“I’m not very emotional or romantic or anything like that,” he said. “I’m very practical … I'm not a Valentine’s Day guy. I’m going to give you flowers, but it certainly won’t be when everyone tells me to get you flowers. I’m much more rational.”
After he realized his plan was foiled, Glenn explained his paint-stained hands to Jenny and how he tried to paint the Rock for her and then asked for her hand in marriage.
This was five hours later — in the brutal cold and what not, you would think that there’d be no way,” he said.
Glenn said this grand gesture was unlike him.
“That’s the last time I’m ever doing that,” Glenn said.
Jenny, of course, said yes when Glenn asked her to marry him.
A baby is born
The Eyre family welcomed their firstborn daughter, Rachel, on Oct. 4, 2001. Preparations were to be made to bring Rachel home and Glenn was instructed to leave the hospital to purchase a car seat, but instead he drove to MSU.
To redeem his first blunder, Glenn wanted to paint the Rock, surprise his wife and welcome their daughter home in true Spartan fashion.
"It's just the way I am," he said.
Glenn spray-painted "Welcome home, Rachel" and tossed the evidence into the back of the car before he drove back to the hospital.
When the time came around to bring her home, Glenn devised a detour home that led them through campus, he said. When they pulled up to the Rock, a collection of people were gathered around singing “God Bless America” with candles in hand. They had painted an American flag over his greeting in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack that had occurred just weeks before.
“It was probably a wise decision not to get out of my car and paint over the American flag,” he laughed. “So, of course, I go, ‘You know what, I’m really never doing this again.’”
The third time’s the charm
Fast forward to April 1, 2017. The Eyre’s 20th wedding anniversary was days away and the annual Green-White Spring football game was set for 3 p.m. Glenn decided it had come time to get up and try to paint the Rock for his wife once again.
“Nobody’s got better determination than I do,” Glenn said.
But fate was not going to make this effortless for him.
Planning to head straight to campus after work Friday evening, Glenn realized the rainfall would prohibit the paint from sticking to the Rock; his message would wash away.
Because of the rain forecasted for Saturday afternoon, Jenny no longer desired to go to the football game. Luckily Glenn prepared for a situation like this one and convinced Jenny they were visiting a mutual friend from college who was hosting a fundraiser at the Rock.
His alternate plan was to sneak away from home early in morning to paint, but when he arrived to the site on Saturday, the Rock was occupied and serving as the home base of a 5k race.
Some story telling and one donation later, the 5k host Health Without Borders MSU said he could paint the back of the Rock for his wife. Glenn illustrated "Happy 20!" and their initials inside of a heart around 8:15 a.m. Saturday, then he revealed it to Jenny close to noon.
“You totally got me,” Jenny said to her husband after he finally triumphed. “You never pull anything over on me."
The Eyre’s brought along their two daughters Rachel, 15, and Autumn, 13, who said they were really surprised that after about a month of planning the ordeal, it worked.
“He’s been really nervous about it all day,” the daughters said.
Jenny fought back tears, thanking her husband and hugging her family, while Glenn was simultaneously beaming with satisfaction.
“I didn’t really expect anything, I never really do,” Jenny said. “Every day, we do lots of fun stuff but it was quite the gesture considering the last two failed attempts, but he hung in there.”
She described the final pursuit as pretty incredible.
"Third time's the charm, right?" Glenn said. "Spartans Will."
He was finally successful, Jenny said, 21 years later.