George Butler was interested in Southern Arkansas University the minute he saw the President’s Ambassadors on the Mulerider Express on YouTube. Making friends on Facebook with some of those same President’s Ambassadors, he was impressed by how friendly they were and how much they seemed to love the University. He wanted to be a part of that.
“I hadn’t even visited the campus before, so these students gave me much confidence in SAU before the big move,” he said, referring to his big step across the Atlantic from England.
Upon arrival in August of 2009, he settled into Greene Hall, where Julie Menné, a fellow art major and President’s Ambassador, was a resident assistant. The two became instant friends. They purchased retro bikes together and began riding all over town, singing at the top of their lungs, getting lost and visiting McDonald’s drive-through.
“After a few weeks of knowing each other, she played me a song,” he said. “Julie is a great singer and guitar player. It wasn’t until she began to sing that I realized I had already heard her sing through a video posted on a mutual friend’s Facebook page.”
It wasn’t long and the two began dating.
Julie was struck by George’s humor and pleasant personality.
“He is one of the happiest people ever,” she said. “It was so easy to see that he is an awesome person. He is fun, sweet, hilarious, and has such a good heart. I was a super happy person when we met, and he has made me even happier.”
George was smitten by Julie’s personality and “contagious smile.”
“I absolutely love her laugh… and the way she effortlessly lights up any room she walks in,” he said. “I admire Julie for her ability to see the beauty in everyone she meets. She is loving, honest, loyal, dedicated, and beautiful from the inside out.”
Also bound by strong faith and a mutual love of art and photography, their lives became inseparable.
George won many awards for his art, the first being from a London museum at the age of three entitled “Mummy with Lipstick.” Art was a constant throughout his life. He studied fine art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and turned his sights toward pursuing a degree in studio art through SAU’s Department of Art and Design.
Julie, a graduate of Fayetteville High School, dreamed of traveling and interacting with different people beyond her Arkansas upbringing. She took her first art class her sophomore year in high school. Art was an immediate passion. She acknowledges that her love of art is wrapped in a desire to share and express herself through her media.
“I love art because it gives me the opportunity to share my happiness, fears, struggles and desires… and I don’t feel that I am boring or burdening anyone with my thoughts,” she said. “They can see them in a second or stay awhile. It’s easier to be vulnerable in my art. I think being vulnerable ties us together and encourages compassion for one another.”
The two seemed to know that they would one day marry. Julie never suspected a proposal was coming, nor of the romantic setting of where it would occur. The summer of 2012, Julie was to fly to England to spend time with George and his family.
“I saved every penny I could to buy a plane ticket. I definitely wasn’t expecting anything,” she said. “Anytime we spoke about the possibility of marriage, he would make me believe that was the last thing on his mind.”
A year earlier, George had custom-ordered a ring designed by an American woman, yet hand-made by her English husband. The coincidence was not lost on George and only added to the beauty of his plan.
“I have always wanted to go to Paris and Julie had said that she wanted to see Paris after we graduate. I thought this would be the perfect place to propose, so I surprised her with a trip, after all, it is supposed to be the most romantic city in the world,” he said.
The most romantic icon in that city would be the Eiffel Tower.
“I was so wrapped up in the beauty of Paris that I wasn’t thinking about anything else,” Julie said.
George had carried the ring inside his baggage. His biggest concern was that passport control would search his bag in front of Julie. George filmed the whole trip and kept entertained by taking photos as they stood in line for their turn to ascend the tower.
“Because we were on our own, I had to wait for the perfect moment at the top of the Eiffel Tower for someone else to hold the camera,” he said.
Atop the international landmark, George surprised Julie with his proposal and one-of-a-kind ring.
“It didn’t seem real. If he didn’t have a ring, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I can’t believe now that he did all of that for me,” she said.
“Everyone around us was excited. As soon as I got down on one knee and Julie said ‘yes,’ everyone surrounded us and started taking photos. After the crowds passed, we spent the night looking out onto the illuminated city of Paris. It was beautiful,” said George.
The couple plan to wed August 3, 2013, and move to England where they plan to teach art. Their dream is to open up an art gallery together.
“I guess we will just see where life takes us, wherever it will be, I know we’ll be happy,” he said.