Isabell Whitney and Preble Staver met before WWII.
After being married for seven decades, the couple died on the same day as they had always wished.
The two of them fell in love with each other on a blind date in Philadelphia. However, when the United States entered the war, they put their relationship on hold. Preble joined the war as a Marine, while Isabell joined as a nurse in the Navy and was stationed in Maryland.
The couple tied the knot on Feb. 15, 1946, five months after the war ended. During their marriage spanning seven decades, the couple had 5 children.
One of their children, Laurie Staver Clinton, told PEOPLE, “They were great people. Mom really taught me that you can’t change another person but you can change your attitude towards them. Dad was a bit of a prickly pear!”
In 2013, Isabell and Preble moved into a care facility in Norfolk after Isabell started suffering from dementia. The care facility eventually had to place the couple in separate rooms as Isabell’s worsening dementia was causing frustration in Preble.
Despite her condition, Isabell still remembered Preble. “Sometimes we’d have to tell her to focus and look but when she looked and knew it was dad, she’d get that little smile,” the 62-year-old Laurie said.
As Preble was getting closer to his 96th birthday, he told his daughter he wanted to share one more nap with the love of his life. So, the care facility made arrangements for them to lie beside each other for around 3 hours.
“There was not a single word spoken between the two of them. They held hands and just fell asleep. I told dad, ‘This is mom’s birthday present for you.’ He was just so happy that he got to take his nap with her,” Laurie said.
Isabell even sang “Happy Birthday” for her husband when she was taken into his room.
A few days later, staff called Laurie to say her final goodbye to Isabell on Oct. 25. She also brought Preble to bid her farewell.
“He held her hand, and it was just so tender. I asked him if he wanted to stay after the prayers, and he shook his head. I said, ‘Okay, but you know that means you’re going to have to let go of her hand?’ I was crying, and he was crying,” Laurie recalled.
Preble died just hours later after Isabell was gone. Phenomenally, they were born 14 days apart and passed away 14 hours apart.
Laurie recalled how Isabell and Preble lived through 70 years of marriage, “Mom and dad really lived out that, if you make a commitment, and even though life gets rough or life gets in the way, you work through life, and you live your life together.”
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