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Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

  • Love Story Deaths660.jpg

    Dec. 29, 2012: In this photo provided by Dick Felumlee, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee, seated, of Nashport, Ohio., in central Ohio pose for a photo with their eight children. (AP Photo/Dick Felumlee)AP

  • Love Story Deaths662.jpg

    In this September 1941 photo provided by Dick Felumlee, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee pose for a photo nearly three years before their marriage in February 1944.AP

  • Love Story Deaths661.jpg

    In this photo from the early 1940s provided by Dick Felumlee, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee of Nashport in central Ohio pose for a photo.AP

An Ohio couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

Helen Felumlee (FEHL'-uhm-lee) of Nashport in central Ohio died April 12. She was 92. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.

The couple's children say the two met as teenagers and had been inseparable since then, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported. 

Relatives told the Zanesville Times Recorder that after a few years of dating the young couple snuck off to a court house in Kentucky to elope with $5 in their pocket, enough to pay the $2 marriage fee.

"He was ready. He just didn't want to leave her here by herself."

- Daughter Linda Cody

The pair were married on Feb. 20, 1944, two days shy of Kenneth's 21st birthday meaning he was too young to marry in Ohio. 

"He just couldn't wait," the couple's son Jim Felumlee said. 

Reportedly afraid to break the news to their parents, the couple spent the first weeks of their marriage living separately until Kenneth spoke up. 

The two went on to have eight children with Kenneth working for a railroad company and as a mechanic before becoming a mail carrier. He was also an active member in their church, and willing to lend a hand whenever it was needed. 

"There would be hours he wasn't here, and she had all these kids, but she understood that it was a need in him to help other people," Linda Cody, one of the couple's daughters told the Zanesville Times Recorder.

Cody said the two were deeply in love to the end. When their children grew up and had families of their own, they began traveling the country, visiting nearly all 50 states by bus. 

"He didn't want to fly anywhere because you couldn't see anything as you were going," Jim said. 

When Helen became confined to a hospital bed, Kenneth took it hard, Cody told the Zanesville Times Recorder. 

"He would just reach out and grab her hand, but he would keep his head down because he couldn't stand to see her hurting," Cody told the paper. 

Cody said her father began to fade about 12 hours after her mother died and told them that he didn't want to leave her by herself.

"We knew when one went, the other was going to go," Cody told the newspaper. "We wanted them to go together and they did," she said. 

"He was ready," Cody said. "He just didn't want to leave her here by herself." 

The couple have 23 grandchildren and 43 great grandchildren. 

Click for more from the Zanesville Times Recorder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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