Gordon and Norma Yeager. Photo courtesy CNN.
By Emily Price
Des Moines, IA (KCCI/CNN) - An Iowa couple married 72 years died one hour apart in the hospital while holding hands.
They got married on May 26th, 1939.
On the day she graduated from high school, Norma Stock said yes to Gordon Yeager.
"They're very old-fashioned. They believed in marriage til death do you part," said the couple's son, Dennis Yeager.
Dennis was the youngest of four children born to the couple. His sister, Donna, was first born.
"Staying together for 72 years is good, I'd say that's exceptional," said Donna.
The way the kids tell it, dad was the life of the party, while mom kept everything together.
"Anybody come over, she was the hostess with the mostess. She just seriously, the more she did, the more she smiled. Dad would be the center of attention, like, 'Weee look at me,' and mom was like 'get him away from me!' You know we even got a picture like that," said Dennis.
Norma didn't really want the distance, she hardly left Gordon's side for 72 years.
"They just loved being together. Everybody argues once in awhile, but they still, he said 'I have to stick around. I can't go until she does because I have to stay here for her and she would say the same thing," said Dennis.
It's almost as if they knew.
"Last Wednesday they left home to go into town. Somehow there was an accident," said Dennis.
At the intersection of Highway 30 and Jessup Avenue, just west of Marshalltown, State Troopers said Gordon pulled in front of an oncoming car.
"I rushed from Des Moines where I was working and saw them in the hospital," said Dennis.
In the intensive care unit of Marshalltown's hospital, nurses knew not to separate Gordon and Norma.
"They brought them in the same room in intensive care and put them together, and they were holding hands in intensive care and then, with the morphine and everything they were not really responsive," said Dennis.
Gordon died at 3:38 p.m. holding hands with his wife, and the family they built surrounded them.
"It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going, But we were like, 'he isn't breathing, how does he still have a heart beat?' And she checked and everything and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up," said Dennis.
"They were still getting her heartbeat through him," said Donna.
At 4:38 p.m., exactly one hour after Gordon, Norma passed too.
"Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other. I couldn't figure out how it was going to work. We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way," said Donna.
"They just loved being together," said Dennis.
At their funeral, Norma and Gordon held hands in their casket.
Norma was 90, and Gordon was 94.