John and Anne Alexander were married 64 years ago and literally lived out their wedding vows to the end, dying just hours apart this month at a care facility in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
“They took that ‘Until death do us part’ seriously,” said Jackie Voeller, of Climax, Minn., one of the couple’s six surviving children.
The two met in the early 1950s while they were out with a group of people but on separate dates. Anne’s green-and-white striped dress caught John’s eye, and from then on they were never far apart, holding hands into their advanced years.
“They were just so close,” said daughter Kate Anderson, of Rochert, Minn. “They were a cute couple.”
So it was fitting that they died together at the Emmanuel Nursing Home. Anne, 84, died at 1:45 p.m. on April 19 and John, 88, passed at 6:30 a.m. the next day.
John was born in Detroit Lakes, served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1952 and then briefly worked for BNSF railroad before returning to the family farm to help his father drill wells and grow small grains.
Anne was born in 1933 in Ogema, Minn., and graduated from Waubun High School in 1951. She was a waitress at the Erie Supper Club and later at the Fireside Restaurant.
The couple raised seven children. In their spare time, Anne knitted sweaters and mittens for children, and John enjoyed hunting, fishing and trapping, and tinkering in the garage. Together they enjoyed hosting family get-togethers, playing cards and in recent years trips to area casinos, family members said.
The couple moved into the assisted living facility last year as Anne’s health began to decline after a more than a year of dialysis treatments. John was battling prostate cancer, but never gave up caring for Anne. In recent months, Anne found the three-times-a-week treatments to be too difficult and stopped going. That’s when John also gave up, Voeller said.
“Dad was so into taking care of Mother,” Anderson said. “When he found out that Mom was in hospice and off dialysis, he gave up himself. He could not have lasted much longer without her.”
While saddened at the loss of both of their parents at once, Anderson said there is some comfort in knowing they went together.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “They had a happy life.”
Services have been held.