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Trending: After 65 Years of Marriage, Couple Dies on the Same Day

Betty Gay died at 2 a.m. and her husband, Jim, closed his eyes and died just before midnight. "I know he would have been lost without her," says a good friend.

Jim and Betty Gay on their wedding day in March 1948. | Screen shot of a photo provided to the State Journal-Register by their daughter Jane Haase.
Jim and Betty Gay on their wedding day in March 1948. | Screen shot of a photo provided to the State Journal-Register by their daughter Jane Haase.

By Dennis Robaugh

STAUNTON, IL — After 65 years of marriage, Jim Gay couldn't live without his Betty. He'd already lost a part of her to Alzheimer's disease. And when she had to move into a care center, Jim went, too, though he really didn't need help the way Betty did.

He just didn't want to leave her side.

When she died at 2 in the morning on March 18, Jim closed his eyes and slept most of the day. But he didn't take long to follow. By midnight he was gone.

"There had been no indication that morning his health was rapidly deteriorating," their daughter Jane Haase told the State Journal-Register after a reporter from the paper called to ask about her parents and the coincidence of their departure from this life together. "Everybody, they just can't believe it."

In death, as in life, Betty, 85, and Jim, 87, were the talk of Staunton, a small downstate Illinois town of 5,000 folks just outside of St. Louis where they raised four children.

The family held a double funeral on March 22. Longtime friend Alva Tevini was there.

"They were a very committed couple to each other. I don't know what Jim was thinking, exactly, but I know he always depended on her," Alva said. "I know he would have been lost without her."

They met on a Saturday night at the Moose Lodge dance in Staunton after World War II. Jim had just gotten out of the Navy and came home to nearby Benld, a tiny town, just a speck on the map in Macoupin County.

"He asked to walk her home, even though he had driven his friends from Benld to the dance," Jane told the State Journal-Register. "His friends could not find him because they did not know where my mom lived, so they drove the truck back to Benld and my dad took a cab home. 

"They were together from that night on."

Jim and Betty married in 1948 and raised a family in Staunton, three sons and a daughter. Betty volunteered at the local hospital. Jim owned Gay Plumbing, Heating and Hardware. They were blessed with 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Betty was always the lively, talkative, vivacious one. And Jim was the quiet, soft-spoken one. He would follow her lead.

"It was always a joke how she would speak for him, ordering food at restaurants, answering questions for him," their daughter said. "That is the reason I say he couldn't live without her because there would be no one to speak for him or tell him what to do."

Trending on Patch is a category showcasing popular stories from across Patch's network of 900 local news sites.

Olympia April 02, 2014 at 09:23 PM
This is beautiful, I'm hoping some day it will be the same for me we have already made it 34 years, when people said it wouldn't last because we married so young. God bless them, and may they be together in heaven looking out for their family.
Art Schrameck April 03, 2014 at 04:21 PM
This is why they say to watch the other parent closely when one dies, as the other is likely to go very soon afterward. A broken heart will kill, as it actually enlarges the heart and deminishes blood flow. There was just an article about this the other day. It's sad but they had alot of years together, and were lucky to ahve each other.
Barbara Crisci April 04, 2014 at 12:32 AM
true love he just could not live with out his Betty this story does bring tears to your eyes there children are very lucky to have parents who really cared about each other bless you all sorry for the loss of both your 4ever mom and dad
ladypoet April 06, 2014 at 01:43 PM
If we all could have such love and dedication in our lives. Such a beautiful love story that you don't hear about too often.
jbryan1962 April 22, 2014 at 10:42 PM
After 52 years of marriage, I can say that would be our wish. God Bless them.

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