Lifestyle & Human Interest

Couple Married 73 Years Die 6 Hours Apart While Holding Hands


Mary and Wilford Kepler went through a lot together. During World War II, Mary wrote to Wilford, and through wars, depressions and recessions since, the two stuck together.

Even in their final moments, 94-year-old Wilford and 92-year-old Mary from Wisconsin were able to be together — a luxury many have not been afforded lately.

On April 8, Mary tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined at home, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On April 12, Wilford fell and hit his head, and both he and Mary went to and were admitted to Froedtert Hospital.

“They were aware of what was going on, and they were at peace with it,” granddaughter Natalie Lameka said.

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After being admitted, Wilford also tested positive for COVID-19, and the hospital made the call to keep them together. On April 18, when they died — Mary six hours after Wilfred — they were able to stay together.

“After more than 70 years of marriage, Wilford and Mary Kepler passed away within six hours of each other,” the hospital shared in a Facebook post Tuesday.

“Both had tested positive for COVID-19. Our staff at Froedtert Hospital pushed their beds together so they could hold hands during their final hours.”

“They had been holding hands and that was just heartbreaking to hear but also heartwarming to hear,” Lameka told WTMJ-TV. “And we were just so thankful they were together and they were aware they were together.”

“It was definitely hard. But it was bittersweet.”

While the couple couldn’t have a flurry of people come through because of the coronavirus restrictions, they were able to talk to loved ones through video chats and phone calls.

“They were able to say, ‘I love you,'” Lameka said.

They will be remembered as a loving couple, and according to their son Michael Kepler, they did all the things that good parents do.

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“They took care of their children,” he said. “They lived a good life, and they got their kids educated. They did the things that most people would want to do for their children and for their families.”

Mary was determined to have died from the coronavirus, while Wilford’s cause of death was officially listed as complications arising from his fall.

The couple will be buried in a cemetery near Boaz, close to where both Mary and Wilford grew up.

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