Talk about everlasting love: A senior couple from the Chicagoland area truly took their "in sickness and in health, until death do us part" vows to heart. Five days after celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary, Ruth and Bob Kretschmer of Medinah, Illinois, died just a few feet away from each other—and just minutes apart.
Bob, 92, had been battling cancer for years and Ruth, 90, was struggling with dementia. But on Friday, the two said their last goodbyes—together. Ruth stopped breathing, and Bob passed away shortly after he realized the love of his life was gone. The couple's daughters, Roberta Boston and Ruthann Koenig, were there to witness the final sweet moments between their parents.
“He asked why everyone was crying, then he passed away,” Boston told the Daily Herald. She added in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that a caregiver “was holding Dad’s hand, and she [the caregiver] was crying. He asked her what was wrong, and she said, ‘Ruth’s gone.' And his hand went limp.”
In less than an hour, a nurse from hospice arrived at their home and proceeded to pronounce both Kretschmer parents dead, Koenig said. “She [the caregiver] said, ‘She’s gone,’ and she stood up, turned around, and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s gone.’”
Koenig added that she believes her father was holding out to look after his wife, who was about to be put into a nursing home for her condition. Weeks before his death, Bob apparently had told a friend, "I'm going downhill, but I have to hang on because I can't let Ruth go to a home."
“It was as if he was released from his duty. As soon as he heard mom declared at 10:25, dad was declared at 10:26,” Koenig said. “I believe to the bottom of my soul he hung on for her.”
Their children described Bob and Ruth as soul mates, and said that they got their final wish of dying together in the same home they had shared for decades.