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Longtime friends make good on pact to marry at 50 if still single

"I've always loved her," Ron Palmer says of Kimberley Dean. The two got married 37 years after first dating in high school.
/ Source: TODAY

A deal is a deal. And this one's sealed with a kiss.

Several decades ago — they don’t remember exactly when — lifelong friends and high school sweethearts Kimberley Dean and Ron Palmer made a pact. They would marry each other if neither had tied the knot by the time they both had reached 50.

Kimberly Dean and Ron Palmer, marriage pact
Kimberly Dean and Ron Palmer posed together after making their lifelong friendship official!Courtesy of Kimberley Dean

Dean is now 51 and Palmer is 54. The pair from St. Paul, Minnesota, got married last week.

"We had a pretty exciting day on Friday. It was awesome," Palmer said.

The couple met in high school and started dating when Dean was a freshman and Palmer was a senior.

"After high school, I wanted to go sow my oats. I thought at that young age, girls were a dime a dozen and I could get along with anybody — so we broke up," Palmer told TODAY. "But we broke up on good terms. We remained friends."

Whenever one experienced a relationship breakup, he or she would ring up the other. After one particular call, the two struck a deal.

"It was a complete joke. We were both single at the time and we were just both fed up with dating and all the craziness that goes with that," Dean recalled.

The two even got into a practical discussion about their work-related benefits. Palmer, an iron worker, bemoaned he had no one to leave his inheritance to, and Dean, who works for the local school district, jokingly offered to help. "I said, 'Just leave it to me," she said.

high school sweethearts keep marriage pact
The lovebirds back in high schoolNBC News

She was divorced and had two children. Palmer also was divorced but had no kids. And that's when they made the pact.

"It was something along the lines, since she's 2 1/2 years younger, 'Once you hit 50, if we’re both single, maybe we should try this again,'" Palmer said.

But they quickly forgot about the deal as time passed. They remained in each other's lives, never going more than six months without talking to each other. Palmer sometimes watched Dean's children or took them camping. He also came to the rescue when Dean needed someone to retrieve a dead pet hamster from her son's cage.

"That's the kind of friendship we have. 'If you need something, I’m there for you.' It’s always been that way for us," she said. "We've always clicked."

In 2016, they made another attempt to become a couple and this time, found success. Palmer proposed a year later on New Year’s Eve.

On June 1, the couple got married in a garden ceremony in front of a waterfall. Dean's son walked her down the aisle and her daughter served as the maid of honor. The couple's final dance at their reception was to the song "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon.

"The day was beautiful; the weather was gorgeous. We were surrounded by friends and family," Dean said. "It was overwhelmingly breathtaking and so full of happiness."

Kimberly Dean and Ron Palmer wedding
Kimberly Dean is walked down the aisle by her son, Konner. Her daughter, Kayla, was the maid of honor. Courtesy of Kimberley Dean

Although Dean said she dislikes hearing the cliché "I married my best friend," she admits it aptly applies to her relationship.

"We’re like yin and yang. We kind of complete each other," she said. "We’ve always been there for each other. He’s consoled me; I’ve consoled him. He’s watched my kiddos grow up."

Palmer said his love for Dean has always run deep.

"One hundred percent. We started out as friends, we fell in love and we parted as friends, but we still cared for each other," he said. "I've always loved her because she's such an awesome friend."

High school sweethearts reunite and marry 37 years later after making wedding pact
The bride and groom 37 years after they first dated.Courtesy of Kimberley Dean

Dean said she only regrets that it took them so long to get married.

"Everybody jokes, 'Well, it’s about dang time.' We waited a long time to finally get to this point. Everything you go through to get to here was worth it. I just wish it could have been a little earlier," she said. "What can I say? I love him. I’m head over heels."

Her daughter, Kayla Dean, knew the two were meant for each other.

“I would say there’s no better match in the world for either of them,” she told the Star Tribune.

“People who are meant to be together will always find each other. It may take 37 years, but it can happen.”