Two Teenaged Lovers Made A Fateful Pact – And Decades Later It Became A Reality

Image: Palmer Family via Daily Mail / Facebook/Il Nuovo magazine

When we’re young we make all sorts of promises, most of which are quickly forgotten. However, there are some oaths so persistent they stick with us throughout our lives. When 51-year-old Kimberley Dean and 54-year-old Ron Palmer struck a bargain in their youth, for example, it withstood the test of time.

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The deal in question isn’t the only thing that seems made to last, either. Dean and Palmer have stayed in touch across decades and have never once lost their bond. As a result, talk of their bargain resurfaced over the years, so they decided it was finally time to seal that deal.

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After decades of sitting on that promise, both friends finally committed. And now that they’ve done it, Dean and Palmer have just one misgiving: that it took so long. So what was this mysterious pledge? Well, its origins date back to the couples’ high school years and their blossoming romance.

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You see, the Minnesota couple actually met while attending St. Agnes School. At the time, they weren’t in the same year – Palmer was an 11th-grader and Dean was in eighth grade. But they still noticed each other in between classes, as Dean informed the Star Tribune in 2018.

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“I would watch [Palmer] come down the stairs when the high school kids were changing classes and we would wave at each other,” Dean recalled. “We ended up taking a picture together. And, by fall of the following school year, when I was a freshman and he was a senior, we were dating.”

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Throughout the years to come, the pair looked back on the time they’d spent together fondly. In fact, their relationship had literal fireworks. Palmer revealed, “When we were kids, we would walk down the Midway at the State Fair and the fireworks would go off. If we were together, we would always stop and watch.”

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Furthermore, like a lot of couples, Dean and Palmer had a special song that they considered theirs. And in this case, it was a track by the classic ‘70s and ‘80s rock band, REO Speedwagon called “Keep on Loving You.” The piece even had a week at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1981.

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Unfortunately, the pair’s romantic entanglement didn’t last. Palmer felt he was too young to commit and wanted to explore other relationships. “I wanted to go sow my oats, so to speak,” he revealed, “So we went our separate ways.” The couples’ breakup must have been hard, especially on Dean.

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In 2018, Palmer confessed on the Today show that, at the time, he took his relationship with Dean for granted. Indeed, the youth left high school without realizing the bond with his sweetheart was rare. “I thought at that young age, girls were a dime a dozen and I could get along with anybody,” he explained.

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It took a long time for Dean to understand Palmer’s reasons for their initial separation. “When you’re a freshman in high school and [he’s] a senior, [there’s] an age difference,” she told the Star Tribune. “And once [he] graduated, he didn’t want to be tied to a girl who was still in high school.”

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Dean also said that, now, it’s a decision she completely understands. But even back then she remained mature about the breakup. Not only did she stay friends with Palmer, they also stayed in contact and became each others’ confidantes. His feelings for his her even resurfaced, but, by then, it was too late.

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“By the time I felt like maybe we should give it a try again, [Dean] had met somebody else and got married,” Palmer recounted to the Star Tribune. She wasn’t the only one who moved on, though. He got married himself sometime after, so it looked like they were both settling down into separate romantic lives.

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Additionally, Dean’s relationship resulted in two children: a son called Konner and a daughter named Kayla. However, neither of their marriages stood the test of time. Palmer separated from his wife after seven years, and in 1998 the mom-of-two got divorced. Yet throughout everything, the pair kept in touch on a regular basis.

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“I’d either get a letter or a phone call every once in a while,” Palmer explained to People magazine in 2018. “When I was dating other girls and having issues, I would call her. She would help me through those times. It was a super good friendship, and it went back and forth like that for a long time.”

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“I don’t think six months ever went by in all this time that we weren’t in contact,” Palmer saind in an interview with the Star Tribune. “I would always call [Dean] when I had something to complain about: ‘Why do women do this?’ She was my go-to person.” Clearly, the pair’s friendship was a strong one.

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“That’s the kind of friendship we have,” Dean concurred in her interview with the Today show. “’If you need something, I’m there for you.’ It’s always been that way for us. We’ve always clicked.” Palmer wasn’t just there for his former girlfriend, either. In fact, he played a big part in her children’s lives, too.

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Dean’s daughter, Kayla, told the Star Tribune that Palmer had been a constant in their family’s life. “Out of everyone my mom has ever been with,” she said, “even my dad, [who] we don’t have a relationship with. I would say [he] has filled that father role for Konner and me.”

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The family friend sat for the siblings sometimes when Dean went out and he took Kayla and Konner camping. On one occasion, the mom-of-two asked Palmer to take her son’s dead hamster out of its cage because she was squeamish. And he even called Dean’s mom every year to send her mother’s day greetings.

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It seemed like the two had a deep emotional connection, even though they’d long since stopped dating. Dean described herself and Palmer as a “pair of goofballs,” because they still listened to their signature song together. When one of them heard it, they’d contact the other so they could both enjoy the tune.

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“Over the years, I would get a call that said, ‘Turn on [radio station] KS95,’” Palmer informed the Star Tribune. “And there it would be. Or I would hear the song come on and text [Dean]. And, if she didn’t answer, I’d leave the radio playing it on her phone.” The song, it seems, stayed special to them both.

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As the two of them explained in an interview with the Today show in 2018, one of their conversations turned to money. Palmer works for the Xcel Energy company as a safety coordinator. Meanwhile, Dean is involved with the enrichment program at the Community School District in Roseville. But the safety worker was concerned about the future.

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Dean said, “[Palmer] was talking about benefits and I was talking about kids. And he goes, ‘I don’t have anyone to leave any of my stuff to.’” That was the point when the youth worker came up with what they would later refer to as “the pact.” Apparently though, she wasn’t serious at first.

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“Just jokingly,” Dean continued, “I went, ‘Just leave it to me, let’s get married.’ And he went, ‘Okay,’ and that’s how the joke started.” So the friends agreed that when she turned 50, if neither of them were already married, they would wed. At the time, though, they didn’t see the bargain ever coming to fruition.

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Over the decades that followed, however, the friends got closer and closer. And in 2016, they attended the Taste of Rosefest wine and food event together in Roseville. Was romance in the air at the time? Maybe. Because, just after Palmer’s birthday, he even invited Dean to a private getaway.

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To be more specific, Palmer took Dean to Finlayson, M.N., where he has a hunting cabin. It was there, roughly 37 years after their pact, that he broached the subject once more. The youth worker described the moment she reminded her friend of their deal to the Star Tribune and how he was initially hesitant.

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“I don’t remember exactly what I said,” Dean recounted. “But it was along the lines of: ‘What do you think if we try this again?’” She was, of course, referring to their romantic relationship. For his part, though, Palmer was reluctant to agree because he didn’t want to ruin their friendship.

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Dean explained, “There was a lot of hesitation on [Palmer’s] part. He told me later he worried that, if a relationship didn’t work, we would lose one of the very best friends we ever had.” The safety coordinator confirmed that was indeed his fear. “That was a big risk,” he added, “but we decided to try.”

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So Dean and Palmer struck up their dormant, but far from forgotten, relationship, and soon after fulfilled their bargain. In fact, Palmer proposed just a year later during the New Year’s Eve Up North celebration. He surprised Dean when they went to Minnesota’s Gooseberry Falls, which had frozen over in the frigid temperatures.

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Dean had second thoughts about exploring the falls when she realized how cold and dangerous it was. With the intention of returning to the car, she turned around only to find Palmer waiting patiently behind her. He was down on one knee, holding something out in front of him.

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The object in Palmer’s hands was a small blue jewellery box containing an engagement ring. Dean happily agreed to marry him, so they started making arrangements for a wedding the following year. The safety coordinator then jokingly said that his ideal venue was the zoo, with the famous larger-than-life gorilla Casey present. His fiancée, of course, had other ideas.

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Instead, the couple settled on a ceremony in the Japanese Garden in Minnesota’s Como Park. Before the big event, Dean asked her future husband if he was nervous about their betrothal. “No,” he simply said. But he informed the Star Tribune that he did have one concern: whether his ring would fit.

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“I am nervous if my ring will go on my finger,” Palmer said, “I’m using my father’s ring. My father passed away so I’m using his wedding ring, and it’s a little snug.” For Dean, her only concerns are about whether their big day will go according to plan. No disasters needed.

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“I think I’m more nervous about if I’ve forgotten anything,” Dean said. The bride-to-be was far more confident in her decision to marry Palmer, though. “I have no second guesses about marrying him at all,” she revealed. “I think we both knew, even in high school, that we were supposed to be together.”

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“I have no second, third or fourth doubts in my head,” Dean elaborated. “Now that we’re getting so close [to the wedding], details like needing to call the florist lady, I am stressed about those things. But marrying him? I’m not stressed at all. I’ve been divorced since 1998, so I go in with my eyes completely wide open.”

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Dean’s daughter didn’t seem surprised that her mother and surrogate father got together again after so many years apart. Kayla said, “It felt like it was supposed to happen, like it was meant to be. I would say there’s no better match in the world for either of them.” And, clearly, the couple agrees.

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“People who are meant to be together will always find each other,” Kayla continued. “It may take 37 years, but it can happen.” And if Palmer and Dean’s relationship is anything to go by, that sentiment is true. After almost four decades, the childhood sweethearts finally fulfilled their marriage pact in June 2018.

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So was the wedding worth the wait? “The day was beautiful,” Dean told the Today show of their outdoor waterfall-adjacent ceremony. “The weather was gorgeous, we were surrounded by friends and family.” In fact, both the bride’s children had key roles on her special day. Kayla stood as her maid of honor, while Konner walked his mother down the aisle.

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Dean continued, “It was overwhelmingly breathtaking and so full of happiness.” The Palmer-Dean wedding reception was a similarly emotional affair. The couple had the evening’s final dance to a familiar tune: REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You.” Their pact might have started as a joke, but now they can’t imagine their lives any other way.

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“We’re like yin and yang,” Dean informed the Today show. “We kind of complete each other. We’ve always been there for each other. He’s consoled me; I’ve consoled him. He’s watched my kiddos grow up.” Palmer also admits that his feelings for his new wife are as strong as ever. “I’ve always loved her because she’s such an awesome friend,” he said.

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Now the married couple hope their story can serve as hope and inspiration for others. Dean said, “When it comes to any type of a relationship, be it friendship or a relationship that you have with a partner, don’t give up. We put it on the line, and I’m glad that it worked out. We’re still friends, but we’re married. So don’t give up.”

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