At first meeting, they knew it was the real deal

Shellie Moore made sure Phillip Wallace was the real deal the first time she met him.

Shellie, then an assistant attorney general, had not been to Shug’s before that but was convinced to go to happy hour in celebration of a friend’s birthday one Thursday in the fall of 1995.

Phillip was there with colleagues from his physician recruiting job.

“I had to run a gantlet of men at the door,” she says. “After I sashayed past them and found my friend, I saw Phillip from across the room and he was wearing a bow tie. No one had ever told me that could be sexy, but it certainly was.”

Phillip, in a pinstripe suit, saw Shellie, when she arrived.

“I looked across the room and saw her enter and I immediately thought, ‘Who is that? We’ve never seen her before,'” Phillip says. “She wore great Italian shoes. She had the heels on and the jacket and just stood out.”

He asked a friend who she was.

“She said, ‘You don’t need to waste your time. She’s dating like four or five people right now,'” Phillip says.

Phillip persevered, though, and struck up a conversation with Shellie. The evening ended with her removing his burgundy bow tie, just to make sure it was a real tie. Of course it was.

“I would not be caught dead with an imposter,” Phillip says.

She decided she might like to see him again.

“Then I didn’t hear from him,” she says. “I didn’t know my friend had told him I was dating all these people.”

Phillip was playing with his band, Johnny and the Rockets, not long after that and he spotted Shellie in the crowd.

“I thought, ‘Oh, wow, there’s that pretty girl,'” Phillip says.

Shellie, there with a date, approached the stage and had a conversation with Phillip about his lack of communication.

“I didn’t know there was any interest but she made it clear that there was, and then she walked away,” says Phillip, who took over the Rockets several years after that.

He called her the following Monday, and although he doesn’t particularly like Mexican food he agreed to Juanita’s for lunch.

“I told her she could ask me anything she wanted to over lunch. Two and a half hours later she was still interrogating me,” he says.

The next day, Phillip sent Shellie flowers.

“He called me ‘The Auburn-haired goddess of jurisprudence,'” she says. “I kept the card and dumped all the other guys.”

After they started dating, Shellie asked Phillip to go to a concert in Memphis. She told him it was an up-and-coming star, playing small venues but about to make it big.

“It was Alanis Morissette,” Shellie says. “Phillip loves music from the ’60s — the Beatles, the Stones — and I love more modern music and I thought if he can go and enjoy this concert … I just wanted to see his initial reaction and he loved it. I thought, you know, this might could work.”

Phillip had a speaking engagement in Colorado, where Shellie’s parents lived, in January 1996, and he invited Shellie to go.

“She goes, ‘Well, good, I want to introduce you to my family,'” Phillip says.

Shellie told her parents only that her new beau was in a band, omitting information about his full-time profession.

“So when they met me, they were thinking I was some long-haired hippie, some unruly person, but I showed up in a pinstriped suit with a bow tie on,” Phillip says. “They thought I was pulling their leg or something.”

Phillip’s gift to Shellie on their second Christmas together was a big screen television.

“This was back in the day when TVs were not small,” Shellie says. “He lugged it up the stairs and he said, ‘I think I’ll be here to watch it.'”

That was a segue to a marriage proposal, says Shellie, now a managing partner at the Wilson Law Group.

They were wed on Oct. 3, 1997, at the Arkansas Supreme Court in a ceremony officiated by the late U.S. Rep. and Supreme Court Justice Ray Thornton Jr., a family friend of Phillip’s.

“Ours was the only wedding he ever officiated,” Phillip says. “He signed the marriage license on the spot, which I think is unique.”

They and their families had a wedding luncheon at The Terrace, the site of one of their earliest dates.

“Jerry [Barakat] opened it when they were not open for lunch, specifically for us and our parents, after we had gotten married,” Phillip says. “We still go back, to this day, to the Terrace on our anniversary.”

Phillip and Shellie Wallace have traveled extensively throughout their relationship, including regular trips to London.

“We developed a friend over there and got to be a seated guest at the queen’s birthday, Trooping the Colour,” he says. “It’s been an annual thing for us to be invited and seated.”

Travel was limited for a time in 2020, though, and they found common interests then, too.

“It was just a further confirmation that we made the right decision,” Phillip says. “We’ve always known that we were right for each other.”

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The first time I saw my future spouse:

She says: “My heart fluttered. It still does when I see him.”

He says: “I thought, ‘Wow.’ She really stood out.”

On our wedding day:

She says: “I think that was the last time I had almost all of my family there — my mom, my dad, my grandmother and my favorite uncle. It was a happy occasion.”

He says: “Other than my father, my next door neighbor Kaneaster Hodges was one of my best mentors. He came that day and just said to me, ‘I think you hit the jackpot.’”

My advice for a long happy marriage:

She says: “Have a good sense of humor.”

He says: “Anger is wasted energy. We have mutual respect for each other’s needs, intelligence, likes, dislikes — those things are easily solvable.”

     Shellie Moore and Phillip Wallace were married on Oct. 3, 1997, in the Arkansas Supreme Court, by the late Justice Ray Thornton, a family friend of the Wallaces. “It was such a happy occasion,” Shellie says. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)