Who Is Dolly Parton's Rarely-Seen Husband, Carl Thomas Dean?

On the cover of Dolly Parton's fourth solo album, "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy," a man wearing jeans and a plaid shirt sits on a fallen tree. That man is none other than Parton's husband of 50-plus years, Carl Thomas Dean. In fact, it's one of the first (and only) public photos of him. Dean, who previously owned an asphalt-laying company, prefers to stay out of the spotlight. He rarely travels with his wife when she's on tour, keeping to himself in their Tennessee home. Although Parton's worldwide success has made them both multi-millionaires, Dean has kept himself busy with odd jobs. "If he ain't workin' on our place, he'll take a few jobs, like grading somebody's driveway or cleaning off somebody's property, to pick up a couple of hundred bucks," the "Jolene" singer told Playboy in a 1978 interview.

Historically, Carl Thomas Dean hasn't gone on tour with his wife. In fact, he's only seen her perform a few times. As Parton told Ellen, "It's almost like seeing your kid in recital. He's afraid I'll mess up," she shared. Although the couple are polar opposites in most ways, their differences have led to a successful relationship. Here's what we know about their first meeting and their enduring love story.

Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean met outside a laundromat

Sometimes, the most important people in our lives can pop up in unexpected places. Dolly Parton met her husband in 1964 outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville, Tennessee. She was 18 years old and brand new to the city. As the "Jolene" singer later recalled on her website, "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." As for Carl Thomas Dean? He knew Parton was the one pretty much immediately.

Because the singer's record label didn't want the young protégé to tie the knot just yet, she and Carl Thomas Dean decided to do it in secret... On Memorial Day 1966 they eloped in Ringgold, Georgia. The only guests in attendance were the preacher, the preacher's wife, and Dolly Parton's mother. "I never really felt like I had the wedding that we really wanted," the singer told People. On their 50th wedding anniversary, the couple decided to renew their vows. This time around, Parton wore a sparkling white gown, quite the departure from the simple cropped design she dawned in 1966. Although Dean reportedly doesn't care what his superstar wife wears, she still likes to get "fixed up" for him (via People).

Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean value their independence

Whereas Dolly Parton has lived the majority of her life in the spotlight, Carl Thomas Dean is pretty good at flying under the radar. Best of all, his relative anonymity allows them to travel more or less unnoticed. As the singer explained in a conversation with Parade, "We sight-see all of Tennessee and Kentucky, the areas that we can get back home from at night. Sometimes we'll stay over at a Days Inn [motel] where we can just pull up and sneak me in." Parton isn't picky — one of her first dates with Dean was at a drive-thru McDonald's.

Parton and Dean both value their independence, in fact, it's what's kept their relationship alive for 60 years. "I always joke and laugh when people ask me what's the key to my long marriage and lasting love, I always say 'Stay gone!' and there's a lot of truth to that," Parton joked. Although the singer always assumed they'd have children, it just wasn't meant to be for the couple. Instead, she's worked on becoming a role model for young girls — plus, she's Miley Cyrus' proud godmother. 

When she returns home after time on the road, the "I Will Always Love You" singer can count on her husband to make her laugh, an important piece of any relationship.