Couple who died hours apart after 71 years of marriage described as inseparable by family

The family members of an Illinois couple who died just hours apart after 71 years of marriage have described the couple as inseparable.

The union of Robert and Nora Viands began on a blind date in 1942 -- but it was hardly love at first sight. Family members tell the Journal Star that Nora told Robert she never wanted to see him again after their first meeting.

But, Robert was persistent and after their second date, he convinced Nora to continue their relationship.

At the start of World War II Robert was drafted into the Army and scheduled to deploy overseas. To the dismay of their families, the couple eloped in Missouri because 17-year-old Nora was a year shy of the legal age for marriage in Illinois, the Journal Star reported.

“When they came back, in order to appease the family, they were married again in both the Catholic church and in the Methodist church,” Barbara Milton, one of the couple’s five children told the Journal Star.

For the next seven decades, the couple was inseparable until their deaths, which were just 16 hours apart. The Rockford Register Star reports that 92-year-old Robert Viands died around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday. He had been battling Parkinson’s Disease. Nora Viands died at 4:45 p.m. after being hospitalized with pneumonia in December.

“We were blessed to have them pass at the same time,” Bob Viands Jr. told the Journal Star.

“She would have been heartbroken to be without her lover,” he said.

“My mom was the glue who held our family together during the roller-coaster rides of life,” Bob Jr. told the Journal Star. They were “kind of like Archie Bunker and Edith,” he said.

The Viands’ children were able to arrange to have their parents in the same room at the hospice for their final hours. The family plans for a joint funeral Sunday.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.