By Sarah Huether
“We’re not grown up, but we are starting to mature a bit,” jabs Ted Lowe, Texas A&M University Class of ’58. Sitting comfortably across from his friend Jimmy Tyree, Texas A&M Class of ’54, in the library of Arbor Oaks at Crestview in Bryan the men effortlessly begin their banter. Both are former presidents of the Association of Former Yell leaders and current Arbor Oaks residents and are fast friends, referring to themselves as “old people” but with spirits teeming with cheeky youth.
Tyree double majored at Texas A&M in poultry science and ag journalism, spent many years in the Army, then had a career in print and advertising. Married for 60 years, Tyree has a son, Texas A&M Class of ‘79, a daughter, and two grandsons, both of whom are Aggies. Tyree beams with pride over his favorite photo with all of their hands clad with Aggie rings.
Lowe received his degree in insurance, but spent 28 years in the Air Force. Lowe and his wife have been married for 50 years and have a son and daughter. Former members of the Corps of Cadets and Yell Leaders, Lowe describes the bond of the Corps as “mutual suffering makes for great, great friends.”
Yell Leader campaigns have changed throughout the decades. “When you take a pee, think of me: Jimmy Tyree,” read Tyree’s Yell Leader campaign flyers, which hung above urinals. Head Yell Leader of 1957-58, Lowe says his campaign chairman was a Marlboro distributer who passed out packs with eight cigarettes rather than the standard four. “I’m not saying Aggie votes could be bought for eight cigarettes in those days,” jokes Lowe. Both men are involved with the Association of Former Yell Leaders, an organization dedicated to supporting Yell Leaders, as well as hosting First Yell.
After convincing their wives to return to Aggieland, Tyree and Lowe bought homes in College Station. Tyree and his wife were regular attendants at the Texas A&M games until this year and Lowe has only missed three home games since returning from Germany in 1983.
The men researched many retirement homes in the area before choosing Arbor Oaks, which opened February 2013. Lofty ceilings and French décor give the air of a resort, with a full calendar of events including exercise, music, cards, church services, movie nights, and so much more.
As for being surrounded by college students, Tyree says he enjoys talking to young people to “stay current.” Arbor Oaks is involved in a program called WYSE, Wisdom for Youth from Senior Expertise, where high school kids visit and are mentored by residents.
“We are blessed right now. We don’t need more help, but all indications are that we will,” says Lowe. Arbor Oaks offers an assisted living section in the facility and help is easily attained. An estimated 87 percent of Arbor Oaks residents are Aggies, faculty, or tied to the university in some way.
“Great economy, great places to eat, something to do every night regardless of your desires,” Lowe says of College Station as a great place to retire. “It’s great for anybody, and if you’re an Aggie, it’s as close to heaven as you’re probably going to get.”
For Corps Aggies, Tyree adds, “It’s a disease. You never get rid of it and people want to return to what they know.”