South Dakota Couple Dies Just 20 Minutes Apart After 63 Years of Marriage Together
The couple's story is sweetly similar to that in "The Notebook."
— -- An elderly couple died just 20 minutes apart at a nursing home in Platte, South Dakota, after nearly 63 years of marriage together.
Henry De Lange, a Korean war veteran, and Jeannette De Lange, an organist and cook, first met as teenagers in '40s at a skating rink in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The two got married a few years later in October of 1953.
"As a couple, they loved each other a lot and they were both devoted to Christ," said Lee De Lange, one of their five chidlren. "They both served the church in whatever way they could, they went to their children's and grandchildren's activities as much as they could and traveled some. They had a full and blessed life."
Eight years ago, Jeanette was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. A few years after the diagnosis, she entered nursing home since she couldn't care for herself due to her rapidly deteriorating memory, Lee told ABC News today.
Since Henry couldn't bear to be apart from his wife, he would visit Jeanette at the nursing home every day -- even up to three times a day, Lee said. Together, the couple would have coffee lunches, play bingo and read devotions.
Henry finally joined Jeanette at the nursing home on July 27 after staff at the VA hospital said he didn't have much time left.
"They put mom and dad in the same room, which was very sweet," Lee said.
A few days later, on July 3, Jeanette passed away at 5 p.m. at age 87. Henry passed at 5:20 p.m. at age 86.
"When my mom had passed, we told my dad he didn't need to fight anymore if he wanted to go with her," Lee told ABC News today. "And for the first time that afternoon, he opened his eyes. He looked intently at Mom before laying back down and passing away a few minutes later."
Lee later realized the clock on the wall had stopped at the same time his dad passed away, he said.
"It's pretty amazing to think that Mom and Dad passed away just 20 minutes of one another, Lee said. "We believe it was a providential act of God's love and mercy."
The nursing home held a little ceremony for the couple after they had passed, Lee said. He added that many staff members told him they thought the scene and the couple's story was similar to that of Noah and Allie in "The Notebook."
Lee said he hasn't watched the movie or read the book, but he's now "definitely interested" in checking them out in the near future.
"Above all though, we just want to give God all the glory in this story," Lee said. "He is so kind and so merciful to allow them to go to heaven together."
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