An elderly couple has died within minutes of each other—just five days after celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary.
Ruth and Bob Kretschmer were both in their 90s and confined to hospital beds in the home they had lived in for 60 years.
Ruth had Alzheimer’s disease and Bob had cancer. They were being cared for by their children and helpers.
“I’m going downhill,” Bob told a friend, reported the Chicago Sun Times, “but I have to hang on because I can’t let Ruth go to a home.”
But around 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, Ruth stopped breathing, daughter Ruthann Koenig told the paper.
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) December 19, 2017
The couple’s other daughter, Bobbi Boston, said 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.”
Twenty minutes later, Ruth was pronounced dead by a nurse, Koenig told the Chicago Sun Times.
‘She’s Gone … Oh My God, He’s Gone’
“She said, ‘She’s gone,’ and she stood up, turned around, and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s gone.’”
“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.”
Boston’s husband, Roy Boston, told the Daily Herald: “The arc of their two lives, terminating as they did within 15 minutes, meant they were meant for each other in this life and the next.”
Ruth was described as “very, very driven” by Koenig. She had worked in the utility industry, helping to set up utilities in the then-new republic of Kazakhstan.
Kirk Dillard, former Illinois state senator and former DuPage County GOP chief, told the Chicago Sun Times: “Ruth was a trailblazer and role model for women elected and appointed to office.”
Bob fought in World War II, almost dying when a German shell landed near him and two fellow soldiers.
“He went to get a cup of coffee,” Koenig told the Chicago Sun Times. “And while he was gone, a German shell came in. They were killed. He was saved by a cup of coffee.”
“He told me, ‘War is so random. I don’t know why I survived and the others didn’t.’”
Ruth and Bob Kretschmer are survived by daughters Ruthann and Bobbi, and son R. David, as well as eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.