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'I'm not gonna let him go': Couple dies within minutes of each other

Posted August 7, 2020 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2020 7:10 a.m. EDT

Les Atkins described losing both of his parents this week as "being in the middle of both a horror movie and a beautiful love story."

Raymond and Kathleen Atkins bought a house not long after they stood on the front porch of Kathleen's childhood farmhouse where the two got married.

"That's just where life happened from them," described Les Atkins.

Raymond and Kathleen raised four children together.

A couple of years ago, Raymond was diagnosed with lung cancer.

"He continued to work. He did not want to give up working," said Les Atkins.

In July, Raymond ended up in the hospital for a couple of days. But he had to get out - July 22 was his and Kathleen’s 70th anniversary.

"He called me and said, 'I prayed to God all night and all day that I can leave this hospital, and I will be out of here in the morning.' This was the day before their anniversary," said Les Atkins.

Together, at home, they celebrated 70 years of marriage.

"She told my sister that she could not imagine life without him," described Les Atkins.

Several days later, Raymond began to feel weak again.

Les Atkins' sister stayed with Raymond and Kathleen.

In the early morning hours, she went to check on her 90-year-old father and found that he had passed away in his sleep.

"Then, within a matter of minutes, my sister called back and said my mom had crawled in the bed with him and was overcome with grief," explained Les Atkins.

In the bed, Kathleen said "I'm not gonna let him go alone."

Les Atkins said that was pretty much her last words. Within minutes, Kathleen stayed true to her words.

"They did not want to go alone. They had endured this life together. They had this strong faith, and they just refused to be apart," said Les Atkins. "It's a fairy tale in every sense of the word."

When looking through his mom's papers, he found more parting words written down.

“’Do the best that you can do.’ I think that's all they did for 70 years. They did the best they could do," he said.

Raymond and Kathleen Atkins will be laid to rest side by side.

They leave behind four childen, six grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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