Go back

Former APSU Homecoming queen gets her crown

It was a crowning moment in the life of Franklin resident Laura Risner OShoney, thanks to a surprise cooked up by her husband, Brad, whom many call a prince of a guy.

The OShoneys, who met as students at nearby Todd County (Ky.) Central High School, continued their education at Austin Peay State University. They were married 22 years ago, the day after Brads 1982 graduation from APSU.
It was a crowning moment in the life of Franklin resident Laura Risner O'Shoney, thanks to a surprise cooked up by her husband, Brad, whom many call a prince of a guy.

The O'Shoneys, who met as students at nearby Todd County (Ky.) Central High School, continued their education at Austin Peay State University. They were married 22 years ago, the day after Brad's 1982 graduation from APSU.

Last month as they discussed returning for Austin Peay's Homecoming for the first time in several years, a plan began to bubble in his mind. O'Shoney contacted University officials, saying he wanted “to right something that happened to my wife while we were students there.” He went on to say his wife grew up watching beauty pageants and dreaming of someday “wearing a tiara and walking down the runway.”

During her junior at APSU—just as she had fantasized as a little girl—Laura was named the Homecoming Queen for 1981—the only year in history no crown was presented. For whatever reason, APSU deviated from its tradition of crowning the queen and, instead, gave her a silver tray. To add salt to the wound, the following year, his wife had to present a crown she never wore to her successor.

Throughout the intervening years, according to O'Shoney, his wife never talked about it. Then a few years ago, they were on a Colorado ski trip with several couples when the group began sharing stories about life's disappointments. To O'Shoney's surprise, his wife almost cried when she recounted her queen-with-no-crown story.

“This year for her birthday, I bought her a beautiful ring that looks like a crown, but nothing replaces the real thing,” O'Shoney said via e-mail. “My wife of 22 years is as beautiful as ever, and I was wondering if it would be possible to … order a crown and have it shipped to us. I would be willing to pay for it.”

When Dr. Sherry Hoppe, APSU president, and Shelia Boone, director of alumni and annual giving, heard about O'Shoney's request, they joined in a scheme to help him surprise his wife.

To ensure she and the children would attend the game, O'Shoney received an invitation to a fictitious ceremony during the Homecoming game in which he would be honored as a former Wall Street Journal award-winner. He and his family were to be recognized between the third and fourth quarters of the game.

The ploy worked. On Saturday afternoon, when the O'Shoneys were invited to come onto the field of Governors Stadium, Laura's look of pride in her husband turned to surprise and then to tears as O'Shoney escorted her toward Boone, who was holding a sparkling tiara.

With a few whispered comments, Hoppe placed the crown on her head as her husband glowed and her children, Carson and Cailee, cheered.

Twenty-three years after she earned the title, Laura Risner O'Shoney received the crown. For her husband, Brad, his wife Laura had always been a queen. Now it was official.
—Dennie Burke