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Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:41 am

Even as the words go: "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part":

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/u ... 1fPbQUjHSM

Husband and wife married 66 years die hours apart
By SEAN PICCOLI
Last Updated: 5:34 AM, August 27, 2013
Posted: 1:21 AM, August 27, 2013

An Ohio couple married for nearly 66 years died just 11 hours apart this month in a nursing-home room they shared in their final days.

Relatives of Ruthie and Harold “Doc” Knapke said the remarkable timing of their final moments was proof of how seriously they took their “till death do us part” vows.

“I think we all agreed it was no coincidence,” Carol Romie, one of the Knapkes’ six children, told ABC News. “When Mom became ill, we tried to make it clear to Dad that Mom wasn’t going to make it . . . and I think he decided, ‘No, she’s not going without me.’ ”

‘NOT GOING WITHOUT ME’:Harold and Ruth Knapke wouldn’t leave each other in their final days.

‘NOT GOING WITHOUT ME’:Harold and Ruth Knapke (top, at their 1947 wedding) wouldn’t leave each other in their final days.

Harold, 91, died on the morning of Aug. 11 at a rest home in Versailles, Ohio — followed that evening by the love of his life, Ruth, 89.

Their daughter, Margaret Knapke, said in her eulogy that her dad “willed himself to live,” according to the Dayton Daily News. “He was a very loving, loyal person. He was very protective of her.”

Margaret added, “When it became clear that Mom was dying — and Dad understood that — he spent a mostly sleepless night.

“The next day, Friday, there was a certain calm about him, and he began to fail rapidly. As you might know, Dad died 11 hours before Mom did . . . and we believe he did that as a final act of love for her.

“We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next one, and he did.”

The Knapkes were wed on Aug. 20, 1947, in Ruth’s hometown of St. Henry, Ohio, and spent much of their married lives in the nearby town of Fort Recovery, where they worked and raised a family.

Harold was a local school teacher, principal and coach. He also co-owned a local bowling alley.

After Ruth stayed home to raise the children, she went to work as a school secretary.

The family story of how the Knapkes met starts in elementary school in Ohio and stretches across the Atlantic Ocean.

Young Ruthie Schmitz, the story goes, was sweet on Harold Knapke as far back as third grade. But it took a war and a deployment overseas to bring them together.

While Harold was serving with the US Army in Germany during World War II, he met a brother-in-law of Ruthie’s — and realized from her letters to the in-law that the two were from the same area in western Ohio.

Pretty soon, Harold and Ruthie were the ones corresponding.

When Harold returned home as a young Army lieutenant, “I let him chase me until I caught him!” Ruthie would tell people.

They were buried side-by-side after joint services attended by their six children, 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“It’s one of those love stories you don’t see in the movies,” Romie told the Dayton newspaper.