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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": ... 1fPbQUjHSM

Husband and wife married 66 years die hours apart
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.

Re: Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:46 pm

Well it seems that another recent couple has done the same thing like the 1 from last year: ... 4304140030

Couple's love story spans decades

Wife and husband could not be parted by death

Apr. 15, 2014

Written by Anna Rumer Staff Writer

Helen and Kenneth Felumlee, seen in a 1940s picture, passed away within 24 hours of each other this weekend after being married for 70 years. / Submitted photo

NASHPORT — When Helen Felumlee passed away at the age of 92 Saturday morning, her family knew her husband Kenneth Felumlee, 91, wouldn’t be slow to follow her. The couple couldn’t bear to be apart very long, and Kenneth passed away only 15½ hours after his wife of 70 years.

“We knew when one went, the other was going to go,” said daughter Linda Cody. “We wanted them to go together, and they did.”

After Kenneth had his leg amputated 2½ years ago because of circulation problems, Helen became his main caretaker, making sure he got everything he needed. She continued this up until three weeks before their deaths, when she became too frail to care for him.

“She was so weak, she could hardly do it,” Cody said. “But she was still pushing his chair; she was still filling his water cup.”

When Kenneth’s health started to fail, Helen began sleeping on the couch to be near him. The two hadn’t slept apart in 70 years, the family said. Years ago, when the two took an overnight ferry equipped with bunk-beds, they chose to both sleep on the bottom bunk rather than be separated for even a night.

Soon after Kenneth, Helen’s health also started to go downhill, and she was confined to a hospital bed near the end of her life. Kenneth took this particularly hard.

“He would just reach out and grab her hand, but he would keep his head down because he couldn’t stand to see her hurting,” Cody said.

Upon his wife’s death, Kenneth was ready to join her, family said. “She was staying strong for Dad and he was staying strong for her,” Cody said. “That’s what kept them going.”

Helen and Kenneth’s love story began when they were just 18 and 19 after Kenneth’s ex-girlfriend, a friend to Helen, introduced the two. They immediately hit it off, dating for three years before deciding to elope.

Lying to their parents, the two said they were taking a day trip to Kentucky to visit Kenneth’s old basketball coach. Heading to the courthouse with only $5 in their pockets, Kenneth and Helen arrived with barely enough to pay the $2 fee. The couple were wed Feb. 20, 1944, two days before Kenneth was legally old enough to get married. “He couldn’t wait,” son Jim Felumlee said.

When the couple returned, they were too nervous to tell their parents right away, so they lived separately several weeks until Kenneth developed the courage to break the news of their elopement.

“I would have liked to have been there for that conversation,” Cody said.

The newly official Felumlee family grew almost immediately, as Helen quickly became pregnant with the first of their eight children.

Caring for a household of eight children was no easy task, but the couple was determined to make it work. Both Helen and Kenneth had grown up working, and they weren’t afraid to put in the extra effort.

Kenneth worked at the B&O/Chessie Systems Railroad as a car inspector while also operating Felumlee‘s Garage. He later worked as a rural mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. In addition, he was active in his Nashport-Irville United Methodist Church as a Sunday school teacher and member of the Council on Ministry and administrative board. He also was a member of the board of education from Frazeysburg-Nashport schools, Tri-Valley schools, and the Muskingum County School Board.

His children recall him coming home from one job, grabbing the only hour or two of sleep that he ever operated on, and then heading off to his other job. At night, it wasn’t uncommon for Kenneth to leave the house in order to go help someone whose plumbing or car had broken. “Some days, he wouldn’t sleep,” Jim said.

The long absences could be hard to deal with, but Helen supported Kenneth in all his endeavors. “There would be hours he wasn’t here, and she had all these kids, but she understood that it was a need in him to help other people,” Cody said.

Helen spent her days cooking and cleaning not only for her growing family, but for other families in need in the area. She even changed diapers for a neighbor’s child, as the father was not keen on the task. She taught Sunday school and served on the Council on Ministry and Friendship Circle at the church, but was known even more for her greeting card ministry.

Not only would Helen just send birthday cards, she would also send sympathy cards, greeting cards and holiday cards to everyone in her community, each with a personal note inside.

“She kept Hallmark in business,” daughter-in-law Debbie Felumlee joked.

Jim added, “If you would forget your birthday, she would remind you.”

Together, the couple served their community, were active in the lives of their many grandchildren, and visited nursing homes on Sunday. Beloved by the community, Kenneth was jokingly dubbed the “self-appointed mayor of Nashport” by those that knew him well.

When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.

“He didn’t want to fly anywhere, because you couldn’t see anything as you were going,” said Jim.

The two grew with every day, their children said, and remained deeply in love until the very end. Even in their last days, Helen and Kenneth would eat breakfast together while holding hands.

About 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, “Mom’s dead.” He quickly began to fade, and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died Sunday morning.

“It was a wonderful going away party,” Cody said. “He was ready. He just didn’t want to leave her here by herself.”


Twitter: @AnnaRumerZTR

Re: Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:58 pm

This sort of thing also happens with pet owners who's pets pass away...not just couples...not even everyday science can prove why these things happen, but they do, unfortunately.

Re: Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:06 pm

That's a very touching story. Thank you for sharing it.

Re: Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:08 am

This puts me in mind of a sad story that we here know well.

On the boat to Germany, a fellow soldier gave Elvis a poetry collection. It contained this poem, which was apparently his favorite. He had just suffered an unendurable loss.

There really is a will to live, but some require their beloved to maintain it. Some only carry on for another, not for themselves.

I thought you would like to read the poem, which helped a stricken young man to endure - for a time.


Should You Go First

Should you go first and I remain
to walk the road alone,
I'll live in memories garden dear,
with happy days we've known.

In spring I'll wait for roses red,
when faded, the lilacs blue.
In early fall when brown leaves fall,
I'll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain,
for battle to be fought.
Each thing you've touched along the way
will be a hallowed spot.

I'll hear your voice, I'll see your smile,
though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain,
one thing I'll have you do:
Walk slowly down that long long path,
for soon I'll follow you.

I want to know each step you take,
so I may take the same.
For someday down that lonely road
you'll hear me call your name.

~by Albert Kennedy "Rosey" Rowsell~



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Re: Married couple of 66 years die hours apart

Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:32 am

Love is real.

Real is love.