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Married 65 years, Ohio couple dies 11 hours apart

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Couples who have been married a long time typically die within a year of their spouse. Harold and Ruth Knapke of Ohio died in their shared room on Aug. 11, days before their 66th anniversary, according to the Dayton Daily News.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Friends and relatives of the Knapkes reported that they died at a nursing home 11 hours apart on the same day. All who knew them say that their lives were a testament to their devotion over 65 years of marriage.

The Knapkes' daughters said they believe their father willed himself to stay by his wife's side, in spite of his own failing health until they could take the next step in their journey together. He died first in what he his children say was his "final act of love" - and she followed shortly afterwards.

"We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next one, and he did," daughter Margaret Knapke said.

The couple had known each other since childhood and began their courtship as pen pals while Harold, known as "Doc," served in the Army during World War II. "I let him chase me until I caught him!" Ruth would later joke.
 
Her husband became a teacher, coach and athletic director at Fort Recovery Schools. They raised six children while looking after each other with a devotion that didn't seem to diminish.

A recent photo taken shows him lying in a bed, arm stretched through a guardrail to hold her hand, as she leans in to press the top of her head to his. When she was ailing, he blessed her each night with holy water, daughter Pat Simon said.

The Knapkes had a joint funeral Mass, with granddaughters carrying Ruth's casket and grandsons carrying Harold's casket. Stopping at the farm house where the couple had lived, the current owners surprised the family by flying a flag at half-staff to honor the longtime loves.

"It is really just a love story," Carol Romie, another daughter said. "They were so committed and loyal and dedicated, they weren't going to go anywhere without the other one."

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