Hobby Airport comes together to help man pull off a surprise marriage proposal

Russell Rainwater, 51, says he never expected to get married. Less than a year into dating Terri Jo, the Sealy man bought a ring and reached out to Houston Airports for help in taking their love story to new heights.

August 29, 2023

"She is my travel companion, my dance partner, my best friend and hopefully, my future wife," said Russell Rainwater in a phone call to Houston Airports. The 51-year-old banker from Sealy met Terri Jo Youngblood nearly a year ago on an online dating platform. Youngblood, a dental hygienist in a small Texas town, is a widow. Their love story, according to Rainwater, who didn't think he'd ever marry, is unexpected in all the best ways. 

In mid-July, Rainwater reached out to Houston Airports for permission to propose to his girlfriend. “Would it be okay if I invite my brother to take a video as she comes down to the concourse exit to the baggage claim,” Rainwater asked in a short online message to the airport system. “I don’t want to make a disturbance to other passengers or your crew, so if this is not allowed, please let me know. Or, if you have a better idea, I am open to suggestions. This is my first time at this.”

Houston Airports was on it! 

After a brief phone call with the banker, the Houston Airports Communications Team helped to orchestrate a 5-Star experience. Southwest Airlines employees invited departing passengers at Gate 41 to participate in the proposal by staying seated, so Youngblood could exit the plane and have a clear view of Rainwater. The award-winning Houston Airports Arts Program provided live music. Divisi Strings, a 4-string quartet, serenaded Youngblood with a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” as she walked off the jet bridge and into the arms of her beau.

Local artist Brian Zievert painted the life-changing moment on canvas, as team members with Areas USA, Hobby Airport’s newest concessionaire, poured champagne, blew up balloons and readied cake and cupcakes to celebrate the sweet moment witnessed by at least 300 people passing through the concourse. 

Passengers, aware of the surprise proposal, recorded Youngblood as she walked toward Rainwater. The first cheers and claps happened as Youngblood read a handmade poster held by Rainwater. It read: 

Rainwater in the forecast August 31, 2023

Terri Jo, will you marry me?

Whistles and cheers erupted inside the airport as Youngblood and Rainwater hugged and kissed before he dropped to a knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him. Moments later, Rainwater jumped to his feet and yelled, “She said yes,” as Youngblood raised her arms up and out in joy. Passengers congratulated and celebrated the couple as Areas USA passed out sweet treats. Divisi Strings also provided music for the pair’s first dance as an engaged couple. 

“Thank you again for making this event unforgettable for us,” said Russell Rainwater in a note to Houston Airports. “This is more than I ever expected.”