Identical Twin Sisters Die Hours Apart, Family Celebrates Them With Double Funeral

The joint funeral for Helen and Clara was "exactly like their life."

ByABC News
October 22, 2015, 3:44 PM
Identical twins Helen Cook and Clara Mitchell died on Oct 13, 2015 hours apart.
Identical twins Helen Cook and Clara Mitchell died on Oct 13, 2015 hours apart.
Courtesy Linda Sisk

— -- A Colorado family hosted a double funeral ceremony this week after 83-year-old identical twin sisters Helen Cook and Clara Mitchell died the same day just hours apart.

"It was a beautiful ceremony," Cook's daughter Dala Miller of Weldona, Colorado, told ABC News of the Monday service. "It was exactly like their life was. It was intertwined, yet they were still separate, individual women.

"Speaking with the mortuary, they have never done this before with twins passing away on the same day.”

Cook's other daughter Vickie Pepple said her mother and Aunt Clara were born Jan. 2, 1932, in Fort Lupton, Colorado, with Cook being two minutes older.

Cook was married for 34 years and had one other daughter in addition to Miller and Pepple, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

"These were the most grounded women you ever seen," Pepple said. "They could do it all. They could cook, they could sew, they could out-clean anyone. They were one person, yet had all these extremely individual characteristics.”

Mitchell's daughter Linda Sisk said her mother married her father, Rubin Graeb, in 1950. He died in 1979. The couple had another daughter, Carolyn, who died in 1970.

Mitchell had two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She later remarried Floyd Mitchell in 1989. He died almost 20 years later.

Sisk, who was Mitchell's caregiver, said she has fond memories growing up with her mother and Aunt Helen.

The sisters' families held a double funeral ceremony Oct. 19, 2015.

"My memories of them are always birthday parties, Christmases, holidays, being together and playing golf with my Aunt and always sharing some occasions with my cousins," Sisk of Lakewood, Colorado, said.

Miller, Pepple and Sisk said their mothers went through their fair share of health problems: with Mitchell having suffered a stroke in 1977 and Cook being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years ago.

Sisk said her mother, Clara Mitchell, died Oct. 13 at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado.

At 11:30 p.m., about 18 hours later and less than 20 miles away, Helen Cook died at Someren Glen Retirement Community in Centennial, Colorado.

"My mom had had Alzheimer's for about five years," Miller said. "I grieved for her for five years, so it was such a peaceful relief when my mom passed away. Not that it's not sad, but I had a harder time when we found out about Aunt Clara. That just set me over the edge. I always knew my mom was going to first, but I was OK with that because I was like, 'It's OK because I'll still have Aunt Clara,' and that was stripped away from me instantly.”

PHOTO: Clara Mitchell, left, and Helen Cook  were born on Jan. 2, 1932.
Clara Mitchell, left, and Helen Cook were born on Jan. 2, 1932.

The families of the twins Monday hosted a double ceremony at Olinger Crown Hill Mortuary & Cemetery in Wheat Ridge complete with separate and combined eulogies, and they were buried in different plots next to their respective family members.

"Knowing that these two were two peas in a pod, it's not surprising that they went on the same day because they have always said to us of us daughters that they didn't want to be left alone," Pepple said.

"They always wanted to be the first ones to go because they couldn't fathom the thought of living without each other."