Lifestyle & Human Interest

Couple Married 64 Years Dies Holding Hands Only Hours Apart on Christmas Eve


An Ohio couple married for 64 years took their final breaths together while holding hands, dying within hours of one another on Christmas Eve.

Husband and wife Bill and Nancy Schafrath both died on Christmas Eve at the care facility where they had resided for the past year, the Wooster Daily Record reported.

Bill, 88, died around 7 a.m. while Nancy, 85, held his hand. Shortly after 11 a.m., just five hours after her husband, Nancy died.

“It’s almost like they decided that if one went, the other would go, too,” the couple’s nephew John Moritz told the Daily Record. “Somehow they knew.”

In the weeks preceding their death, family and caregivers at Brookdale Senior Living in Wooster, Ohio, made sure the couple was kept together.

Megachurch Pastor Steps Down, Becomes Just Another Member of the Congregation: 'I Will Be a Worshiper Like You'

“In the last couple weeks, when he couldn’t get out of bed anymore, we’d push their beds together in the middle of the room,” the couple’s niece Pat Cornelius said. “So they literally held hands for the last week of their life.”

Bill served in the United States Army during the Korean War and went on to work as a bricklayer while Nancy had a career in banking.

“Bill was always concerned about taking care of Nancy and if Nancy was taken care of he was taken care of,” Jessica Shearer of Brookdale Living said to WJW.

The couple had no children but are survived by many nieces and nephews as well as their church family.

The Rev. Richard Samide, who officiated the couple’s funeral Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church where Bill and Nancy attended church, said the funeral situation was a first for him.

Should a Christian Date a Non-Believer?

“Certainly for me, as I imagine for most of you, this is a first, a Mass where we are burying a married couple together, who died on the same day of natural causes,” Samide said.

For the husband and wife who dearly loved being together, Samide said it was merciful that God ended their lives in such a tender way.

“Surely Jesus knew their faith,” Samide said.

“And so when he decided to call them home, how merciful that he call them together, so they only had to spend a couple hours apart until they were back together again.”

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , ,
A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Page, Arizona
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Lifestyle & Human Interest