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Couple married for 71 years die exactly 12 hours apart

TODAY logo TODAY 7/16/2019 Rachel Paula Abrahamson

a person holding a flower: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Courtesy of Donnie DeLaigle TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site When Herbert DeLaigle’s health started to decline in 2017, he scheduled a meeting with the preacher at his church in Waynesboro, Georgia.

During the sit-down, Herbert revealed that he wasn’t afraid of dying, but he was scared to leave his beloved wife, Marilyn, behind.

In the end, Marilyn was only without Herbert for 12 hours. Herbert, 94, passed away from heart failure at 2:20 a.m. on July 12. Marilyn, 88, took her final breath at 2:20 p.m the same day.

a man and a woman sitting on a table: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Courtesy of Helen Iris DeLaigle TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site “My mom had Alzheimer’s and was sleeping in a bed next to him when he went,” the couple’s son, Donnie, told TODAY. “As soon as they came to take my dad, her breathing went crazy. She was shaking. It was like she knew he was gone.”

Marilyn’s official cause of death was senile degeneration of the brain. Still, it’s hard not to wonder if Marilyn died of a broken heart.

a group of people sitting posing for the camera: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Courtesy of Donnie DeLaigle TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site Herbert and Marilyn’s daughter, Helen Iris DeLaigle, said a nurse predicted her parents would die on the same day.

“She pulled me aside six months ago and said, ‘When I go to check your dad’s vitals, your mom’s will be neck-in-neck with his,’” Helen Iris told TODAY. “She had never seen anything like it in her career.”

Donnie, who is one of six siblings, says he can’t imagine his parents’ story ending any other way.

a group of people posing for a photo: Herbert Delaigle and Marilyn Delaigle © NBC News Herbert Delaigle and Marilyn Delaigle “Mom and Dad held hands wherever they went. That’s what they were known for in town,” Donnie, 66, said. “They held hands in their sleep.”

"It embarrassed me when I was a teenager," Helen Iris admitted. "But when I got older, I was like, 'How precious.'"

Marilyn explained to her children that it was because the decorated Army veteran was gone so often. Herbert served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

a man and a woman sitting on a table: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © Courtesy of Donnie DeLaigle TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site “My mother said she was going to hold on to him when he was home,” Donnie told TODAY. “So that was their thing.”

The funeral, which was held on Monday, was a celebration.

“We can’t be sad,” Donnie said. “Now they’re in heaven holding hands.”


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