Dolly and Carl Dean have enjoyed 50 years of wedded bliss despite facing many of life's obstacles common to most married couples and plenty of unique challenges all their own.
They met outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville, TN, on the first day Dolly moved to Music City. Falling in love and getting married were, perhaps, the last things on young Dolly Parton's mind. Yet, here was a tall, dark and handsome man who swept her off her feet. She said,
"I was surprised and delighted that while he talked to me, he looked at my face (a rare thing for me). He seemed to be genuinely interested in finding out who I was and what I was about."
Two years after that fateful meeting, Dolly and Carl were married on May 30, 1966. It was Memorial Day, Dolly and Carl traveled to Ringgold, GA, with her mother. They had a simple, private ceremony with only Avie Lee, the preacher and his wife in attendance. Since that day, Dolly and Carl have lived happily-ever-after for 50 years. They've loved and supported each other while respecting each other's independence.
Their 50 years of happiness is a true testament to their parents, Avie Lee and Robert Lee Parton and Carl’s mother and father, Virginia "Ginny" Bates Dean and Edgar “Ed” Henry Dean. The Parton's had 12 children and the Dean's had three. Dolly fondly referred to Ginny as Mama Dean and says she was her best friend.
Nearly every aspect of Dolly and Carl's personalities compliment one another. While one would think Dolly would be the most entertaining of the two, she often says that it's Carl's unique sense of humor which keeps her laughing. Given Dolly's larger-than-life outlook on everything, it makes perfect sense that her one-and-only would be equally as special in every way.
Dolly's wedding dress and Carl's suit will be on display at Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood beginning July 1.
Since she has no plans of slowing down, what has worked for Dolly and Carl for the past 50 years is sure to carry them through the next.
Dolly penned her heartfelt emotions for Carl in the words of her song, "From Here to the Moon and Back."
"From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Love everlasting, I promise you that
From here to the moon and back"
Dyane Smokorowski was named the 14th recipient of the Chasing Rainbows Award. She enjoyed a weekend trip to Dollywood where Dolly herself presented Dyane with the award. Each year, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) honors one outstanding educator with this prestigious award. The honoree is someone who "has overcome great obstacles in his or her life, has captured the rainbow and is helping children." This year’s winner serves as the Instructional Technology Coach for Andover Public Schools in Andover, KS. Smokorowski said,
“It is difficult to admit that my personal struggles actually prepared me to be a stronger person today. I wanted to be someone who could inspire others to reach beyond their environments, beyond their extremities, and to do as I have always done—to dream big!”
In 2002, Dolly became the first to receive this award from the NNSTOY. The award celebrated her commitment to fostering a love of reading among children through her Imagination Library. Since then, Dolly has presented the award each year.
Dyane Smokorowski's name will be added, along with past recipients, to the award displayed in the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood.
For more information on the award and how to nominate an outstanding teacher, visit the NNSTOY website.
Dolly credits her Uncle Bill Owens with being one of her earliest supporters and one of the biggest reasons she reached for her childhood dreams. On March 23, 2013, she dedicated a section of her Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood in honor of Uncle Bill and everything he has done for her. The room features pictures, songs, her very first single and, occasionally, Uncle Bill himself!
Dolly and her not-for-profit Dollywood Foundation present the Chasing Rainbows Award annually to a teacher who has overcome adversity. Dolly was the first recipient in 2002. The award is given under the banner of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), a not-for-profit organization that seeks to improve student learning across the nation by defining, sharing and advocating for effective teaching practices and policies. Dolly’s Imagination Library is an official partner organization of the NNSTOY.
Edna Rogers, Director of the Dolly Parton Chasing Rainbows Award, also was the person who honored Dolly with the award in 2002,
“Dolly has overcome many obstacles in her life and is making a difference in the lives of children... Now Dolly, in turn, gives this award personally every year to a teacher who has overcome obstacles in his/her life and is making a difference in the lives of children.”
Each winner spends a week as Dolly’s guest at her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN, and his/her name is inscribed on a plaque inside her Chasing Rainbows Museum at the park. NNSTOY selects the annual recipient.
Dolly explored new adventures in 2002 as she opened a new area Dollywood appropriately named Adventures in Imagination. The expansion included Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure, the world’s largest Turbo Ride® Action Simulator Adventure. It replaced Thunder Road which debuted in 1996. Clovis’ Wilderness Corner retail shop, named for one of the characters in Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure, provided guests with a unique shopping experience after their adventure.
A rainbow path throughout the area led to Chasing Rainbows Museum. The state-of-the-art interactive museum housed a collection that chronicles Dolly’s rise to fame from her humble East Tennessee beginnings. As Dolly became a superstar, she never forgot where she called home. It was a natural fit to create a space to showcase her dreams, both past and present, at Dollywood. Inside Chasing Rainbows Museum guests could find some of Dolly’s most treasured items including the famed coat of many colors and countless awards from around the world. Dolly says,
“I’m a collector of stuff, I keep EVERYTHING. And you know what I’ve discovered? A lot of stuff I’ve saved is tied to dreams that helped shape my life. I hope seeing my stuff inspires you to have some dreams you’ll want to collect.”