Elderly Christian couple reportedly die just 20 minutes apart - and that's not the only shocking detail
Posted August 20, 2016
A Christian couple's six-decade love story recently came to an end with a series of events one of their sons is collectively calling a "beautiful act" of God.
Henry and Jeanette De Lange of Platte, South Dakota, first met at a skating rink in the 1940s and wed in 1953. Decades later, they both died at a nursing home on July 31, just 20 minutes apart from one another, CNN reported.
It's their uncommon deaths — teamed with the couple's intense faith and devotion — that has attracted so much attention to their story.
"As a couple, they loved each other a lot and they were both devoted to Christ," their son Lee De Lange said, according to ABC News. "They both served the church in whatever way they could, they went to their children's and grandchildren's activities as much as they could and traveled some.
He added, "They had a full and blessed life."
Before their deaths, Jeanette, 87, suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and Henry, 86, struggled with prostate cancer, though the two did, indeed, lead robust lives in their earlier years.
She worked for 15 years at the Platte Hospital, cared for their children and was an active member of the Platte Christian Reformed Church, serving as a pianist and organist, according to the couple's joint obituary.
He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, worked as a hog buyer for 40 years, was a member of the local volunteer fire department and was also active in church.
She had struggled with Alzheimer's for the past eight years and had spent a few of those years at the Platte Care Center, but he had just recently entered the facility on July 27 after doctors said that he didn't have much time left.
So, when the Platte Care Center called the couple's kids July 31 to say that their parents weren't faring well, the family rushed to be with them.
The kids began reading the Bible aloud to their parents, with De Lange telling KSFY-TV that his mother died around 5:10 p.m. while they were in the middle of reading Psalm 103.
"She passed away very, very peacefully," he said. "Incredibly peacefully."
It was then that De Lange said that his brother, Keith, told their father, "Mom's gone to heaven. You don't have to fight anymore, you can go too if you want."
The family said Henry, who was laying down on a bed, opened his eyes, looked at his wife, closed his eyes again and passed away just a few minutes later around 5:30 p.m., just 20 minutes after his wife died.
It was the conclusion of a 63-year marital journey that De Lange called "a beautiful act of God's providential love and mercy."
"You don't pray for it because it seems mean, but you couldn't ask for anything more beautiful," he said.
And there's another claim about what unfolded that day. De Lange told KSFY-TV that the battery-operated clock on the wall stopped at 5:30 p.m. when his dad died — something that the family noticed about 25 minutes later.
De Lange called it "a sign from God that was the right time," reiterating that his parents were strong Christians who wanted to share their faith with others — something that he said they were able to do even in death.
An aide at the home was, in fact, blown away by what unfolded; she said that she had never seen anything like it in her 27-year career.
"For them to be able to be a witness in life, also in death ... that's cool. Really cool," De Lange said.
Stories about elderly couples dying on the same day are not entirely uncommon. Consider Harold and Ruth Knapke, who died just 11 hours apart back in 2013. And there was also the touching story of Don and Maxine Simpson, who died in 2014 just hours apart while holding hands.
And, yes, in case you're wondering, there is such a thing as "broken heart syndrome." It's rarely fatal, but it most certainly can be.
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