A Texas couple who had been married for 74 years both died on the same day, CNN is reporting.
Leonard and Hazel Cherry tied the knot back in 1942. Leonard was 21, Hazel was 19. The couple’s marriage survived five wars, 13 presidents, the addition of two states to the Union, and even the last Chicago Cubs’ World Series appearance, which took place three years into their marriage.
— Ebony Short (@love_journalism) November 2, 2016
What their marriage didn’t survive, however, was heartbreak: by all accounts Hazel was in good health, up until the time Leonard went into hospice care, says son David Cherry, 72.
“Mother had been driving around town and still going to the grocery store as recently as two weeks ago, but Dad’s health had been failing for some years.”
Just over a week ago, Leonard went into hospice care after years of failing health, moving into a Waco nursing home. That very same day, Hazel, who was in good health but unable to live alone, moved into a nursing home next door. Just days later, Leonard’s failing health caught up to him; he died at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday. Just 10 hours later, at 11 p.m., Hazel joined her husband in death.
“I feel blessed that Daddy’s suffering is over, and I feel blessed that Mom is with him and that she didn’t have to live alone. It’s kind of hard you know, you can’t pick up the phone and call them anymore, or call mother and can’t go by and see Dad. But they are with Jesus now.”
The two were high school sweethearts who got married at the beginning of World War II, where Leonard served as a B-24 bomber pilot, according to KWXT-TV (Waco). After the war, Leonard got a job as an auto body mechanic, then later opened up his own auto repair shop, which he and Hazel managed until they sold the business in 1980.
“The more I began to think about it, I began to smile because of how much they loved each other. There’s no question in my mind my grandmother was waiting for him in heaven with open arms.”
The couple’s grandson, Craig Cherry, said the couple were always smiling and always “deeply in love.”
The Cherrys are not the first couple to die on the same day after a decades-long marriage; in fact, it seems to happen with some regularity.
Back in 2013, CNN reported on the story of Ohio couple Harold and Ruth Knapke, who died on the same day after 66 years of marriage.
Wedding of Ohio couple Harold and Ruth Knapke. They were married for 65 years and died just 11 hours apart. pic.twitter.com/XVtPjpe5EC
— Historical Couples (@CouplesInHistor) January 22, 2014
Like the Cherrys, the Knapkes were sweethearts during World War II. Though they had spent a few years growing up together during elementary school — Margaret would tell her children that she had a crush on their father in third grade — their relationship blossomed while Harold was serving in Germany. They married and started a family after Harold returned from the war.
Sixty-six years after tying the knot, Ruth’s health began to falter, while Harold remained in reasonably good health in his later years. However, once Ruth contracted a fatal infection, Harold’s health quickly deteriorated. Three days later, he died, at 7:30 a.m. on August 11. Eleven hours later, at 6:30 p.m., Ruth died, according to the couple’s daughter, Margaret Knapke.
“It’s consoling to us that they went together. On one hand it’s difficult to lose both parents at once when you didn’t see it coming… but it’s very consoling that they got to go together.”
Back in Texas, a memorial service for Leonard and Hazel Cherry is scheduled for Friday.
[Featured Image by Ruslan Guzov/Shutterstock]