Henry and Jeanette De Lange were deeply in love and inseparable for 63 years of marriage, so the couple’s children said it was fitting how their parents passed away last week.
The South Dakota husband and wife each died on July 31 in the same nursing home room in South Dakota, passing away within minutes of each other. Family members said 87-year-old Jeanette had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was in failing health. She was the first to die, passing away at close to 5:10 p.m., CNN reported. Family members said they gathered around to read Jeanette a Bible verse just before her passing.
“We read Psalm 103. We didn’t quite get done,” said one of the couple’s children, Lee De Lange. “She passed away very, very peacefully. Incredibly peacefully.”
Henry De Lange, who himself had been in a battle with prostate cancer, was in the room when his wife passed away. Another one of the couple’s children told Henry that “mom’s gone to heaven” and then told his father that he didn’t have to fight anymore.
Henry died within minutes, CNN reported.
Though it was a difficult day losing both parents, the children of Henry and Jeanette De Lange said their deaths were a beautiful way to end the lives they spent almost entirely together.
“We’re calling it a beautiful act of God’s providential love and mercy,” Lee said. “You don’t pray for it because it seems mean but you couldn’t ask for anything more beautiful.”
The story of Henry and Jeanette De Lange has gone viral in the week after their death, with many people sharing their story on social media and news outlets across the country picking it up. Many others commented on the bittersweet final act of love between husband and wife, with Henry De Lange ready to leave this world immediately after his love so he wouldn’t be alone.
This is not the first time that a long-married couple has left the earth within hours of each other. Back in 2013, Helen Brown and her husband Les Brown died within less than a day of each other after 75 years of marriage.
The southern California couple spent nearly every minute together, family members said, and they saw it fitting that Les would die of Parkinson’s disease the day after Helen died of stomach cancer.
“My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her,” Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
The love story of Helen and Les Brown was filled with some strange coincidences and seemingly long odds. They were born on the same day — New Year’s Eve in 1918 — and then fell in love during high school. It was an unlikely romance from the start, family members said, as Helen came from a working class family and her parents believed the marriage would never work.
Helen & Les Brown both born 1918, married on 1937, 75yrs together and both died together at the same time on 7/16/13 pic.twitter.com/KDqHCE02TM— Salome Rivera (@SalomeRivera58) July 27, 2013
Undeterred, Helen and Les decided to elope at age 18 and never looked back. The couple eventually moved to Long Beach, where Helen worked in real estate while Les went to work as a photographer. Family members said they maintained a strong friendship through their 75 years as husband and wife while also remaining strong to their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Like the Bible says, ‘They were as one,'” said family friend Bob Brobst.
After living nearly all of their adult lives together and dying within minutes of each other, Henry and Jeanette De Lange will now enter into eternal rest at the same time. The family is holding a joint funeral for the husband and wife on Monday.
[Photo by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]