This couple met prior to World War II and served in the war together. After seven decades of marriage, they took their last nap together in a care facility and died on the same day.
Isabell Whitney and Preble Staver fell in love on a blind date in Philadelphia. However, they put their relationship on hold when the United States entered the war. Isabell signed up as a nurse in the Navy and was stationed in Maryland, while Preble served his tenure as a Marine. Just five months after the war ended, the couple tied the knot, on Feb. 15, 1946. During the course of their marriage, they had five children.
One of the kids, now-62-year-old 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!”
The couple moved into a long-term care facility in Norfolk in 2013 after Isabell started showing signs of dementia. Preble became frustrated on seeing his wife’s dementia getting worse, and they had to be placed in separate rooms.
Though Isabell’s dementia was debilitating, she still remembered her husband. “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,” Laurie said.
As Preble was nearing his 96th birthday, he told Laurie he wanted to share one more nap with Isabell. So, the staff made arrangements for the couple so that they could lie beside each other for nearly three 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 Preble when she was wheeled into his room.
On Oct. 25, a few days after the celebration, Laurie was told she should say her final goodbye to her mom. She also brought her dad in to bid 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. After Isabell was gone, Preble passed away just hours later.
Phenomenally, the couple were born 14 days apart and died 14 hours apart.
Laurie recalled how her parents stuck together 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.”(http://inspiring.ntd.tv)