Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
NASHPORT, Ohio (AP) — The eight children of Helen and Kenneth Felumlee said their mother and father had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers.
Even after 70 years of marriage, they held hands at breakfast every morning and once shared the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported.
“We knew when one went, the other was going to go,” said their daughter, Linda Cody. said.
About 12 hours after Helen died on April 12 at 92, Cody said Kenneth, 91, looked at his children and said, “Mom’s dead.”
With that he quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning, just 15 hours after his wife passed away.
“He was ready,” Cody said. “He just didn’t want to leave her here by herself.”
Son Dick Felumlee said that at his dad’s bed “we were singing his favorite hymns, reading scriptures and praying with him,” he told The Associated Press in an email. “It was a going away party, and we know he loved it.”
The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on Feb. 20, 1944. At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth — who went by Kenny — was too young to marry in Ohio.
“He couldn’t wait,” son Jim Felumlee said.
Kenneth worked as a railroad car inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. He was active in his Nashport-Irville United Methodist Church as a Sunday school teacher.
Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area. She taught Sunday school, too, but was known more for her greeting-card ministry, sending cards for birthdays, sympathy and the holidays to everyone in her community, each with a personal note inside.
“She kept Hallmark in business,” daughter-in-law Debbie Felumlee joked.
When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.
“He didn’t want to fly anywhere because you couldn’t see anything as you were going,” Jim Felumlee said.
Although both experienced declining health in recent years, Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other.
“That’s what kept them going,” she said.