Couple Who Never Spent a Night Apart Die Together

After 70 years of marriage

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2014 7:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Helen and Kenneth Felumlee didn't spend a night apart in 70 years of marriage—including one night they spent on an overnight ferry trip, during which they shared the bottom of a bunk bed to avoid being separated, the Zanesville Times Recorder reports. When spending the night with a granddaughter a few years ago, they slept on an air mattress rather than the available bunk beds—and when the air mattress deflated in the middle of the night, they just laughed and again shared the bottom bunk, the Coshocton Tribune reports. Even in death, the Ohio couple kept that tradition: Helen died last Saturday morning, age 92, and Kenneth followed about 15 hours later, age 91. "We wanted them to go together, and they did," says daughter Linda Cody. "He was ready. He just didn’t want to leave her here by herself."

Helen and Kenneth met as teenagers, and dated for three years before telling their parents one day that they were going to visit Kenneth's old basketball coach in Kentucky. Instead, they went to the courthouse and paid the $2 fee to get married. They lived separately for a few weeks, until they finally worked up the nerve to tell their parents they had eloped. They had eight children together and many grandchildren, and after Kenneth retired in 1983, they started traveling by bus and saw almost all of the 50 states. They held hands every morning while eating breakfast together, their kids recall. And Helen took care of Kenneth right up until three weeks before they died. "She was staying strong for Dad and he was staying strong for her," Cody says. "That’s what kept them going." (Similar love stories here, here, here, here, and here.)

In this Dec. 29, 2012, photo, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee, seated, of Nashport, Ohio, pose for a photo with their eight children.   (AP Photo/Dick Felumlee)
In this 1940 photo, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee sit on a log about four years before their marriage. The Felumlees, who celebrated their 70th anniversary in February, died 15 hours apart from each other.   (AP Photo/Felumlee family)
In this September 1941 photo, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee pose for a photo nearly three years before their marriage in February 1944.   (AP Photo/Felumlee family)
In this photo from the early 1940s, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee of Nashport in central Ohio pose for a photo.   (AP Photo/Felumlee Family)
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