Illinois couple married for 71 years, die on the same day

CNN
Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 3:20pm

An Illinois couple shared 71 years of love.

Their love story ended this week when the husband died and just hours later, so did his wife.

"The first meeting was actually a double-date. They didn't know each other. It was pre-arranged by a friend of my dads. The first date didn't go very well. As a matter of fact after that date my dad tried to approach my mom and she would not have anything to do with that."

But Robert tried again. And this time Nora said yes. Just like she did when he proposed marriage months later. But the couple couldn't tie the knot in Illinois--because Nora was just 17 at the time.

"You had to be at least 18 to be legally married... so from Ashland, Illinois they went across the border into Missouri and they got married in a small town in Missouri by a Justice of the Peace."

Once they got home... they had a secret to keep.

When it came time to tell each family... there was *another hurdle to go over.

Robert came from a strict Methodist household... Nora... a strict Catholic one. But the families found a compromise.

"There were two weddings after they were legally married by the Justice of the Peace... one was in the Methodist Church and one was in a Catholic Church."

The rest they say is history.

Robert and Nora shared 71 years of love... and grew closer as they got older.

But after that much time... reality does set in.

Health issues brought the couple to Fairhaven in February... where their love impacts more than just family.

"To have a family like theirs is exactly the reason why I do my job everyday."

Yesterday surrounded by loved ones... in the care of Fairhaven and northern Illinois hospice and grief center nurses... they made an *eternal vow.

"They both died in the same day. He passed away at 12:45 a.m. and she passed away at 4:45 p.m. 16 hours later... 45 minutes after the hour they both passed. It's a miracle... and we can't explain certain things... why try? We just know it's beautiful that they could go together."

"If somebody were to ask me what she died of... I would say a broken heart because in four and a half years of hospice nursing I've never seen anything like this. just a beautiful story."

The couple will be laid to rest, together, on Sunday.  

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