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Human Interest

Former College Sweethearts Fulfill Their Dream of Starting Dude Ranch: ‘We Get to Lean on Each Other’

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Episode 4 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.

Tim and Debbie Bishop have owned their Wyoming ranch for 14 years. The success of their lodge, however, can’t be measured by crunching numbers. Its success is rooted in the longtime couple’s 33-year marriage, which has weathered several trials.

The couple admits that they didn’t always share the same dream. Debbie once dreamt of becoming a singer and marrying a man who would serenade her. But all of that changed one summer during college when she met a fellow guest at a dude ranch in Colorado.

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“Tim was nothing what I had envisioned,” Debbie tells PEOPLE. “He was just a tall, handsome guy.”

For more American Doers, go to americandoers.people.com.

Tim adds, laughing, “Short version is Debbie started chasing me and I realized I wasn’t going to get rid of her.”

After tying the knot, they began making plans to open their own ranch.

On Nov. 1, 2002, the couple bought the Medicine Bow Lodge in Saratoga, Wyoming. Both their relationship and business has withstood the test of time. They death with the tragic loss of their son, Trenton, at 8 months, the stock market crash that nearly resulted in the ranch’s closure and a fire that devastated the lodge and led to a massive renovation.

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“Tim and I have been through numerous trials through our marriage,” Debbie says. “Whatever comes in life, you can get through it.”

Tim adds, “Deb and I can lean on each other. There are times I get depressed,  there are times I get down. Debbie supports me and I get to support her every now and then. We get to lean on each other.”

When Tim first brought Debbie up to Wyoming for a trip when they were dating, he told her, “One day we’re going to live here.” Twenty years later, that’s exactly where they are — working day in and day out at their dream job of running a ranch.

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“We’re good for each other,” says Debbie.  “It’s all in or all out.”