WOOSTER, Ohio - An Ohio couple married for 64 years died within five hours of each other on Christmas Eve, holding hands until the end, according to local media.
Bill Schafrath, 88, died in the 7 a.m. hour, and his wife Nancy, 85, died after 11 a.m. at Brookdale Senior Living in Wooster, all while holding hands, the Daily Record reported. They had lived at the facility for the past year, according to the paper.
“In the last couple weeks, when he couldn’t get out of bed anymore, we’d push their beds together in the middle of the room,” Pat Cornelius, the couple’s niece, told the newspaper. “So they literally held hands for the last week of their life.”
A file image shows a senior couple holding hands. (Photo by Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Cornelius said the couple did not have any children, so they were “exceptionally close to each other.”
Bill was one of 12 siblings, so they had many nieces and nephews, the Daily Record reported. More than 200 family members and friends gathered for the couple’s joint funeral on Jan. 2 at St. Mary Catholic Church, where they attended church for their entire married life, according to the newspaper.
They also had a joint obituary published in the Daily Record.
“It’s almost like they decided that if one went, the other would go, too,” their nephew, John Moritz, told the Daily Record. “Somehow they knew.”
Bill was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea from 1951 to 1953 and and made a career as a bricklayer, mostly with Bogner Construction, according to the paper. Nancy started as a teller at Wayne Savings Community Bank and worked her way up to first vice president and manager of the bank’s Cleveland Road branch during her 35-year career.
The couple loved to play cards and spend time outdoors, including spending winters in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, the Daily Record reported.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.