Fashion / Weddings

From Hopping on a Ski Lift to Getting Engaged in Caribbean — Houston Power Couple Enjoys Whirlwind, Worldwide Romance

When Romantic Getaways Lead to a Whole New Life

BY // 02.11.20

Ah, February, the month of romance. Love is in the air. Cupid is warming up his bow. And our thoughts are turning to romantic engagements. This is a new PaperCity series of engagement stories that will continue throughout the year.

When Valerie Palmquist hopped on a ski lift in Beaver Creek in March of 2010, neither she nor the fellow next to her, Tracy Dieterich, imagined that they would be engaged only nine months later. It was, to say the least, a whirlwind romance that blossomed over lovers’ getaways that included Los Angeles; Greece and Turkey; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Singapore; and finally Aruba.

It was a New Year’s trip to that Caribbean island that Tracy, senior vice president and shareholder with USI Insurance Services, arranged several surprises for Valerie, who just last year retired as managing director at Savills.

Tracy had hired a 55-foot motor launch for a sunset cruise. It was perfection, as Valerie recalled. Their favorite music played on the iPod while the danced on the back deck. Glasses of Veuve Cliquot added to the romance.

“As the last sunset of 2010 was hitting the horizon,” Valerie says, “Tracy told me there was one more thing he wanted to do before the end of the year . . . and he got down on one knee and proposed.”

And that was just the beginning of a series of surprises that would make this the most memorable New Year’s of their lives.

When they returned to their suite after the sail, the coffee table was topped with bridal magazines (as in let’s start planning) and a box of personalized note cards for Valerie to use once they were married.

Tracy and Valerie Dieterich enjoying the Houston Grand Opera Ball in 2016. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Surprise number three: The connection for the flight home to Houston from New York was too tight and they missed it. Tracy had anticipated this and made reservations for dinner in Manhattan’s crazy popular Baboo, a restaurant that Valerie had been wanting to try for years.

Surprise number four: Tracy had hired a limo to take them back to the airport, thereby putting a glam conclusion to their engagement adventure.

The couple has been married eight and a half years and have a 2 1/2 year-old daughter with a baby sister on the way this summer. In the meantime, they have continued their travels around the world and their commitment to Houston arts. They co-chaired the recent Houston Symphony Wine Dinner & Collector’s Auction.

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