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Published: Friday, 9/17/2004

Truly corny idea plants seeds of love

Corey Cook's marriage proposal to Michelle See is visible above a cornfield west of Napoleon. Corey Cook's marriage proposal to Michelle See is visible above a cornfield west of Napoleon.

Michelle See thought she might spot her name on a billboard when her boyfriend told her that he was planning something big for a marriage proposal.

She was even prepared to read it on a water tower when he told her "some people might see it."

"I hope it's nothing corny," she teased Corey Cook.

Cook Cook

So when from her seat by the window of a small plane she saw "Michelle will you marry me?" surrounded by a heart, all hoed into seven acres of corn much like the popular corn mazes, she could only laugh - after she said yes.

"She just started giggling like a little girl on Christmas morning," said Mr. Cook, who presented her with a ring in the air above his cornfield message just west of Napoleon.

That was late last month.

But ever since June, people flying over Napoleon have known Corey loves Michelle. That's when Mr. Cook, a self-employed hotel market researcher, found Leaders Family Farms on the Internet and contracted to have his proposal cut in their cornfield.

The Leaders raise crops in the flight path between the Columbus area where Mr. Cook and Ms. See live and a Cook family cabin by Lake James in the northeast corner of Indiana.

The Leaders also have eight years experience creating corn mazes that are linked to their farm markets.

For Mr. Cook's proposal, the Leaders drew a heart and his message on grid paper and used that as a guide in June to remove - by hand - corn plants to make the design he wanted in the field.

"We hoped it looked right," Brad Leaders said. "You don't know until you see it from the air."

The width of each letter in the proposal is about 5 feet of bare ground. To keep that ground free of weeds, the Leaders hoed - again by hand - in July the outline of the heart and words.

Mr. Cook paid them hundreds of dollars for their efforts. The price wasn't higher, Mr. Leaders said, because his family hoped it would create publicity for their farm markets in Napoleon and Defiance.

The message in corn, which is not visible from the ground, has drawn much attention from the air. Several times a day, Mr. Leaders said, he sees planes circle the heart for a better look.

As for Mr. Cook, 30, and Ms. See, 26, a January wedding is planned.

And they expect others to copycat the proposal idea. Mr. Cook already knows of one in the works.

Evie Leaders, of the Henry County farm, said Mr. Cook's creativity might raise the bar for what it takes to get a woman to say yes.

"I told Corey, you're putting a lot of pressure on our local boys," she said.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:


or 419-337-7780.

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