When Matt Landever decided to ask his girlfriend, Anna Porter, to marry him, he wanted to do something different than a traditional proposal.
When Landever took Porter to Baltimore for Thanksgiving last year to meet his grandparents, he was doing a crossword puzzle with them when it hit him.
He and Porter are avid crossword puzzle enthusiasts, so he got to thinking about how he could use that to convince her to marry him.
“That’s where I kind of got the idea for the proposal,” Landever said.
Knowing that Porter likes doing the puzzles, Landever got the idea for a proposal and began to plot his strategy. In January, he got a subscription to The News-Review so he could start doing crosswords with her at home. That way she wouldn’t suspect anything a few months later when the “bonus” puzzle came in the paper.
Landever began creating the puzzle to put in The News-Review so that when his girlfriend solved the puzzle, it would show the proposal. His grandparents in Maryland pitched in to help with his ploy.
“I got their advice because they do a lot of crossword puzzles, so I would call them and get their advice and they’d give me wording for the clues,” Landever said.
He worked on it for about two months. The hardest thing, he said, was getting the design, and finding programs where he could put it together so that marry-me (and hopefully) yes, would be together.
He had The News-Review design the puzzle for him, and he brought in all the questions and answers for the project.
“They loved the idea. Victoria Batson, (a classified advertising consultant) was very sweet and said she’d never heard of it before,” he said.
“We were so excited,” said Batson. “We ran around here trying to make it happen.”
The day it was published in the paper next to the regular daily crossword, Porter noticed the extra puzzle.
“After we finished this one (the regular crossword puzzle), she went to put it down and she said, ‘Oh look a bonus puzzle, we should do that, too,’” Landever said.
So they did. There were some tough clues in the crossword, but Landever had dropped bits of crossword-type of information to Porter periodically over the previous months, with the answers to some of the questions that he planned to use in the puzzle.
“There was one on there that was kind of obscure that he had told me the answer to a few weeks before, hoping I would remember it,” she said. “It was an old Indian coin, which is an Anna.”
Landever also had a clue “he is used to carrying a strong drink” and the answer was porter (her last name). So he had her first and last names in the puzzle.
Hints included: “flying or guitar,” and the answer was Solo, the name of his dog. The next one was “a stone fruit pressed for oil,” which was olive, the name of Porter’s cat. The couple met in June, so one answer was June Carter.
“As we were doing this, I was noticing all these clues were about us,” Porter said. “So I realized he had to have done it.”
“It didn’t take her long, and about the third question, she gave me a very funny look like, hmm,” said Landever.
And when she got to the last two words, the question “Will you please (blank)?” came up, and the answer was “marry me.” The next answer was “yes,” and she had no problem filling in the correct answers.
Landever pulled it off, and Porter admits she was stunned.
“Yes, I seriously was stunned. I was surprised that so much work went into this,” she said. “Writing ‘yes’ was very, very easy.”
The couple met through an online dating service. Their first meeting was at a coffee shop in downtown Roseburg. Landever’s friend, who works there, talked him up. A week later Landever and Porter had a dinner date, and the relationship progressed from there.
While the couple were doing the crossword puzzle, Landever pulled out the engagement ring to present to her. It was put together by Frank Bartley at Hansen Jewelers in Roseburg shortly before he passed away in February.
Landever and Porter plan to be married on July 6 of next year at Mount Pisgah in Eugene.
Landever is a biologist with the Bureau of Land Management, and Porter is a speech language pathologist at CHI Mercy Medical Center.
Meanwhile, the couple is still doing daily crossword puzzles together in The News-Review.