This item originally appeared in the Fall-2004 Bulldog Survival Guide issue of The Tech Talk.
By STEFANIE HILL
Sam was working at the commissary at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City when an attractive young woman around his age walked in. His friend, Geoff, urged him to approach and talk to her. But Sam was too nervous, so he just sat back and admired her.
Later, two women he worked with told him they knew the girl, Devie, and had told her about him. She had sounded interested. When Devie returned to the commissary on her next trip, Sam got up the nerve to approach her.
Geoff said Sam walked Devie out to the car and returned smiling.
"Did you get her number?" Geoff asked.
The answer was apparent: Sam spun around and ran after her. Ever since that moment Sam and Devie were never apart, his friend said.
This remembrance was shared by Geoff Clark, a senior computer information sciences major, about his close friends Samuel Tidwell and Devie Sabalza.
July 10, both Tidwell and Sabalza died in a train-car accident in Bossier City.
Both were Tech students.
Sabalza was a senior interior design major and on the Tech Dance Line. She also was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. Tidwell was a senior business administration major and an ROTC cadet. He also was a member of the Honor Guard. He was scheduled to graduate Aug. 14, 2004, and was to be commissioned as a second lieutenant with U.S. Air Force.
Both Sabalza and Tidwell worked for the Housing Office. Tidwell was an RA for Caruthers Residence Hall; Sabalza, a student worker in room assignments.
Happy, outgoing, energetic and honorable were just a few of the words their friends used to describe the couple.
Sabalza and Tidwell had been dating for about four years. Clark said about two weeks before the accident, Tidwell had told him of plans to propose to Sabalza.
"We were sitting in the washroom across from our apartment, and I asked Sam when he was planning on marrying Devie," Clark said. "[Sam] told me he planned to ask her before he left for Utah in August."
Sam Speed, director of housing/residential life, who worked with both Tidwell and Sabalza, said the two were made for each other.
"Devie was so energetic and outgoing while Sam was a laid-back, pretty even-keeled kind of guy," Speed said. "They kind of balanced each other out."
Many of Sabalza's friends said there wasn't a time when she was around that they were not smiling.
"You couldn't find one person that has met Devie, that she didn't touch their life," Melanie Peel, coordinator of room assignments, said. "There was just something about her. Just being in the same room as her made me want to smile."
Clark said his last conversation with Devie, the day before the accident, will be one he will not soon forget.
"She was upset, just about little things like her cell phone, and I couldn't stand to see her not smile," Clark said. "So I sat down and talked to her and told her she should be happy for all the people she had in her life, especially Sam."
Clark said this conversation made them both realize they should be appreciative of what they have because you never know when it might not be there anymore.
Clark said Tidwell and Sabalza were good role models, both as individuals and for a good relationship.
"They did things for each and with each other," Clark said. "You could tell they genuinely loved one another."
Their friends say they will miss the way Devie made them smile, and how Sam made them feel good. Their tragedy made people realize they need to live every moment to the fullest.
Clark said instead of getting sad when he starts to miss them, he just remembers a happy time when they were together and Devie was smiling and Sam was enjoying every second of it.