Throughout the years, men have come up with creative ways to pop the question.

Yesterday, numerous readers of the Empire-Tribune may have noticed one local man’s attempt to catch his loved one’s attention.

The printed plot worked and the couple will now begin plans to tie the knot in the coming months.

Known for going above and beyond in professing his love, Chris Hammett decided to have his proposal appear on the front page of Thursday’s edition.

At the top of the E-T’s front page, in case you’ve already recycled your copy, Hammett asked: “Ilda, Chris would like to know if you will marry him - he loves you very much. Please respond!”

Well, she said “yes.”

“She called and said, ‘honey, I got a phone call at the hospital saying there was an ad on the front page of the paper,’” said Hammett, who was on his way to work in Weatherford when he got the call. “She was pretty much in shock.”

Ilda Martinez, manager of the medical-surgical nurse’s department at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital, said the paid front-page ad has made for a crazy day at the office.

“First of all, there’s not many Ildas running around. That was the first thing I heard this morning, people were calling and asking if I had seen it yet,” said Martinez, still reeling that her love for the past two years decided to propose via newsprint - for all to see. “We have newspapers here at work and so there’s always a paper in the vicinity. However, I think he knows that I’m in the middle of a lot and people grab it and make it part of their daily routine. But today, they had it laying on my desk by my keyboard.”

Martinez says she was approached by six visitors when she came to work Thursday morning, all wondering if she had seen her boyfriend’s message.

“I just had a crazy grin from ear to ear thinking, ‘he’s done it again.’ There’s no way he can do things at a minimum. It’s always to the max,” she said.

Hammett said she called him on his cell phone to accept his proposal.

“She was pretty much in shock still. She said ‘I will’ but I think she was caught off guard in a way,” he said.

The plot was nearly foiled the night before the paper went to press when an E-T staffer contacted Hammett to finalize the ad.

“I answered a call from the lady at the newspaper, but when I hung up the phone, she (Ilda) asked who I was talking to. I had to make up a long story about selling a trailer in the paper and told her there had been a mistake,” Hammett said.

Martinez, not buying the story, told Hammett she thought it was strange the newspaper had called so late.

“It turned out well,” said Hammett, glad his over-the-top proposal caught her attention. “She made the comment, ‘no matter what you do - good or bad, you go to the extreme.’ My thought is, if we’re gonna do something, let’s do it right.”

Hammett admits he doesn’t know what gave him the idea to ask her to marry him with an ad on the front page, but says, “I may be just goofy.”

“Women, they just have a sense of security when it comes to marriage. At 40, I hadn’t figured that out until now,” said Hammett after his girlfriend’s acceptance. “So, I figured if I let the whole town know, there’ll be no doubt about it.”

Martinez says her love for Chris is based on part due to his extreme antics.

“I called him and said, ‘you crazy little man, you’ve done it again.’ He reminded me that we’ve talked about it (marriage) for a while, and thought this would be a way to finalize it. Of course, I love him and of course, I gladly said yes.”

Both recalled the day they first met, at Montana Restaurant, two years ago.

“We made eye contact from across the room so I decided to leave a business card with my number on the back of it, but wasn’t sure of it,” said Hammett. “I was with some guys from work and we were on our way out, but for some reason I took it back in and gave it to her and asked her to call me sometime.”

Shortly after, Martinez called and the relationship grew from there.

“After a couple of dates, I took a bottle of wine, a vase and rose, and steaks out to where he was working,” recalls Martinez. “He was out on location when I called him the first time and he told me to go out there. I was like, are you kidding me? Wow what a date! He was like, ‘I’ve never had anyone do this for me before.’ I told him this is what’s supposed to happen on a date. Needless to say, I had a complete education on the gas industry in two days!”

Both cherish the memory of that date, dining under the bright lights of a gas drilling rig near Alexander on the Mitchell Ranch.

Later in their relationship, Martinez recalled when Chris attempted to send a bouquet of flowers to her office at the hospital.

“One day he asked for flowers to be delivered and the florist couldn’t do it by 5. So, he bought every flower in the hospital’s gift shop and co-workers were asking if the gift shop had moved up to my office,” she said.

Hammett says his proposal is just another starting point in their relationship and looks forward to spending the rest of his life with his true love. “We’ve conquered a bunch of mountains together, and it’s all happened for a reason through the good Lord. I look at it as this is the person I’m to spend my whole life with, but it just took me 40 years.”

Congratulations, Ilda and Chris!