Ron meets Deborah after transferring to Texas Christian University as a sophomore. Deborah is bookish and “neat as a preacher’s wife on Sunday.” When Ron’s friend tells her that Ron wants to date her, Deborah promptly declares that will only happen if Ron has the nerve to call her and walks off. Ron is intrigued by her pride and intelligence and calls her the next day. They date on and off—Deborah is in another relationship that she constantly falls in and out of—until Ron’s senior year, when he is drafted into the Vietnam War and posted to a nuclear support unit in Albuquerque, narrowly missing combat duty.
From the start, Deborah is characterized as a proud woman, though her pride differs greatly from Ron’s. Whereas Ron’s pride manifests as arrogance and self-superiority, Deborah is dignified in that she expects Ron to act with maturity and confidence. Deborah’s pride will become a vital quality to their development in the future, as she will constantly push Ron to become better than he is, helping him to grow.
Ron and Deborah keep in touch over his two years in the army and begin dating exclusively after he is discharged. To make a living, Ron sells Campbell Soup to grocery store managers. Ron and Deborah marry in October 1969. Deborah works as a school teacher; Ron earns an MBA through night classes and becomes an investment banker, slowly selling paintings on the side in 1971. Their daughter Regan is born two years later and their son Carson two years after that. By 1975, Ron makes twice as much from his painting sales as he does from his banking career, but has yet to step out on his own.
Ron’s financial success is self-made; he works hard and climbs the social ladder. This likely contributes to his disdain for the poor as well. If he was able to pull himself up and rise from his lower-middle-class beginnings, why can’t the homeless? However, Ron’s early life contrasts sharply with Denver’s—that Ron was never heavily disadvantaged, never cheated or exploited by anyone else for years on end, which explains why one becomes a millionaire and the others spends his life in poverty.
Ron’s first art sale that nets him a five-figure profit puts him in contact with an eccentric Beverly Hills cowboy who calls Ron “Poopsie” and insists that Ron call him “Snookems.” The profit from this single sale is nearly equal to Ron’s yearly salary from the bank. He promptly quits his job and begins lining up more sales through Snookems, and within months is making massive profits.
Though Ron may consider himself a completely self-made man, it is notable that even here, much of his success comes through a fortuitous connection. Such a resource is something that Denver never has access to, and so never rises through the economic ranks despite his hard work.