Jon Cohen has always been fond of Texas A&M.
From the time his father taught him the words to the "Aggie War Hymn" coming home from his first trip to College Station for a football game as a young boy, Aggieland has maintained a significant role in Cohen's life.
His wife, Patti, whom he met while both worked for General Dynamics in Abilene in the mid-1980s, needed a little more convincing.
In 1987, Jon suggested the couple go along on a bus trip of Aggies from Abilene to a game at Kyle Field. Patti, a west Texas native who began her college career at Angelo State University, had never been to an A&M game. The bus departed Abilene at 6 a.m., and to Patti's chagrin, she boarded the charter to find many passengers already thoroughly enjoying a hearty breakfast of donuts and beer.
"It was my first time to be around a big group of Aggies, and I was questioning the whole thing right then and there," joked Patti recently. "That's why it took me four more years to decide to marry him, because I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to get into this Aggie thing."
Like many, Patti eventually fell in love with A&M, and the two were married in 1991. In fact, part of their honeymoon even involved taking in an A&M-Baylor football game in Waco the day after their wedding.
In recent years, the couple has cemented their legacy of love and support for the school by investing generously in Aggie athletics. In addition to endowing a student-athlete scholarship through the 1922 Fund, the Cohens have also named the 12th Man Foundation as a beneficiary in their estate plans.
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"We feel very strongly about supporting Texas A&M," said Jon. "We drafted our estate plan with several charities in mind, and after our church and our family, A&M was next. We feel strongly about giving to education and giving to athletics. Through this, we found a living passion by helping young Aggie student-athletes that otherwise might not be able to pursue their dreams or follow their talents."
"I've always felt like it was important to give (to A&M) because this university gave so much to me. Words don't justify the gratitude I feel or that happiness I feel knowing that I can give back to a place that provides a foundation for making so many things possible."
Jon and Patti, who reside near Fort Worth, both spent time working for General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. Jon is now a consultant, while Patti has spent 24 years as a technical analyst for Computer Sciences Corporation.
Busy work schedules have limited the couple's chances to attend games in College Station in recent years. But Jon said he has always kept a keen eye on the successes of Aggie teams, and he has even had casual conversations about A&M sports with strangers as far away as South Korea and Germany.
"A&M is known worldwide," Jon said. "In addition to the great education, what gives it that worldwide reach is our athletic programs. There is a lot of pride when you go halfway across the world and see an A&M flag or meet someone who wants to ask you about A&M."
Through their current scholarship endowment and estate gift, the Cohens are ensuring Aggie teams will continue to be a positive talking point around the world.
To those who support student-athletes by giving, I want to say thanks and gig 'em.
Without them, many young people who aren't financially stable or can't provide an education for themselves have a great opportunity. It makes A&M a better place."