72 years together: The couple who died holding hands
Here's a love story for the ages — or the movies. Iowa couple Norma and Gordon Yeager were both in their 90s and had been married 72 years when they were hospitalized following a car accident. The nurses and doctor kept the two together in the intensive care unit, and they lay there, barely responsive but holding hands. Gordon passed away, and, exactly one hour later, Norma followed him, still holding his hand. "They just loved being together," says their son Dennis. "He always said, 'I can't go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.' And she would say the same thing." Here, a brief guide to their incredible story:
Who was this extraordinary couple?
Ninety-year-old Norma and 94-year-old Gordon Yeager met while Norma was still in high school and Gordon was working at the Chevrolet Garage in State Center, Iowa. They were married on May 26, 1939, the day Norma graduated. They had four children together, one daughter and three sons. Tragically, their two middle children were killed in car accidents. "They believed in marriage," says their son, Dennis. "They chose each other and once they had committed, that was it."
How did they die?
In October of 2011, as the couple was driving into town, Gordon mistakenly pulled out in front of another car. The Yeagers were rushed to the hospital following the collision and given a shared room in intensive care. Though they were "not really responsive," they held hands as they lay there, side-by-side. At 3:38 p.m, Gordon passed away, but, then, his family noticed his heart monitor was still beeping. "It was really strange," Dennis says. Then a nurse looked and saw that the couple's hands were still clasped. "Her heart was beating through him and [the monitor was] picking it up," Dennis says. At 4:48 p.m., one hour after her husband, Norma passed away as well. "Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other," says their daughter, Donna Sheets. "We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way."
How will they be buried?
At their funeral, Norma and Gordon shared a casket and held hands. Once cremated, their ashes were mixed together. They are survived by their two children, Norma's sister, Virginia Keil, Gordon's brother, Roger, 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. "We don't hear love stories like Norma and Gordon's anymore," says Lindsay Mannering at The Stir. "We hear about lying, cheating, and divorce. Hopefully there are couples all over the world who share a similar story because I'd like to live in a world where this is the norm and not the exception."