BROWNWOOD – February 12, 2016 – Like many men who are getting ready to “pop the question,” Brett Ellis, Howard Payne University senior, wanted to plan the perfect proposal for Shannon Matthews of Brownwood, also an HPU senior.
“I originally wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” he said. “Then I talked to my dad and my grandma.”
Brett’s father, Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, and grandmother, Nancy Ellis ’48, are quite familiar with HPU romances. Nancy met her husband, Dr. Ray Ellis ’50, at the university and her parents met there as well.
“They told me about a tree out at Riverside Park where my great-grandparents got engaged,” Brett said. “Later, my grandmother showed me the exact tree.”
Brett planned a picnic lunch for Shannon under the tree, complete with the same meals they ordered from Prima Pasta on their first date two years before.
“I thought it was just going to be a celebration of our two-year anniversary of dating,” said Shannon. “He told me he wanted to do something special. We didn’t even get to start eating before he said he had something to ask me.”
Brett admits he was a bit anxious.
“I was really excited and I just couldn’t wait,” he said.
Shannon happily accepted his proposal and the couple will be married on the HPU campus this June.
“I think it’s really fun be a part of this family tradition,” Shannon said of the proposal. “It’s really neat to me to be a part of that story.”
The couple met in choir during Shannon’s freshman year and Brett’s sophomore year.
“I think it started on Easter holiday,” said Shannon. “We had a three-day weekend and he messaged me on Facebook to ask how my break was going. The more we talked and the more we saw each other in choir, the more we clicked. By the second week of talking, we both thought, ‘Okay, I really like this person.’”
Following graduation, Shannon, a family studies major, plans to pursue a career in education and children’s ministry. Brett, a music performance major, plans to attend seminary and pursue a career in music ministry.
Shannon said she still teases Brett about the circumstances of their first date.
“Before we went to Prima Pasta, he asked me if I wanted to go and meet his parents,” she said. “So on the first date, I met his parents who are also the president and first lady of the university I’m attending. It was a little nerve-wracking. But his parents were so nice.”
Through his engagement to Shannon, Brett has enjoyed learning more about his family connections at HPU.
“It’s really cool hearing my grandma talk about how she met my grandpa here and how her parents met here,” he said. “I enjoyed getting to hear the stories from her point of view. It’s great to have that connection with my future wife in the same place, walking around the same campus.”
Photo cutline: Brett Ellis and Shannon Matthews are pictured at the tree under which Brett proposed last spring. Photo by Rindy’s Photography.