An Ohio octogenarian couple who just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, have died from COVID-19, just minutes apart, while holding hands.
Family members said Dick and Shirley Meek, ages 89 and 87, dropped their guard to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on December 22.
They were admitted to a Columbus hospital where they tested positive for the coronavirus on January 8, according to Vicki Harper, one of their daughters.
They died together on January 16. Shirley died first, followed a few minutes later by Dick. The couple never stopped holding hands.
Their deaths came just three days before they were scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, family members said.
The couple had ended up separated in rooms on different floors of the hospital and their conditions started to decline rapidly, Harper told WBNS.
‘We asked [the hospital staff] for them to be together and they said absolutely,’ Harper said.
Daughter Debbie Howell told the outlet that Shirley Meek died first while the couple’s favorite song, When the River Meets the Sea by John Denver, played in the background.
‘The nurse put mom’s head on my dad’s shoulder and she said to dad “Dick it’s OK to let go now. Shirley’s waiting for you” and he passed within minutes,’ she recounted.
In an obituary posted to the Fischer Funeral Home, family members wrote that the couple had a ‘love story for the ages.’
‘They had a fairy-tale ending. Our hearts are shattered, but we are at peace knowing that they are together forever,’ the obituary reads.
Family members said that the Meeks were childhood sweethearts who built ‘a legacy of love’ for their five children, 13 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
‘Theirs was a life of adventure – from sky diving to zip lining, their Bucket List was amazing!’ the obituary reads.
Family members said that throughout their lives the couple made time for daily dates and a 3pm toast to each other.
‘We are devastated to lose them both at the same time. But, we are blessed that they walked together, hand in hand, through the Gates of Heaven into Eternity,’ the obituary reads.
Edwin Meek, who served as an Air Force sergeant during the Korean War, was born in Coshocton and would have turned 90 on Tuesday.
His children described him as a skilled carpenter who often handcrafted gifts for family and friends.
‘He was a romantic at heart and always put others before himself,’ the obituary reads.
Shirley Meek, described as ‘the reserved one,’ was a homemaker and quietly donated to charities every single month, family said.
‘She was an avid shopper and loved to dress to the hilt for every occasion, and her sense of style was admired by all,’ the obituary reads.
Family members have requested that donations be sent to either St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project, or the Alzheimer’s Association in lieu of flowers.
‘COVID took their lives from us, so we beg you all to be safe,’ family said.