Love story: After 60+ years of marriage, husband and wife die hours apart
By Jay Dillon
After 62 years of marriage, a California couple died just the way they lived: together. It reads like a Nicholas Sparks book or a Hollywood movie but it's real life.It's a real life love story, the life and death of Don and Maxine Simpson.The couple, who were married for 62 years, loved each other so much in life that they couldn't stand to be apart even in death, passing away on the same morning last week.Married in 1952, the couple who loved to travel moved to Germany the following year, where Don worked as a civil engineer for the U.S Army and Maxine was a public health nurse.While in Germany the couple adopted two boys, 18-month-old fraternal twins James and William."My grandparents had an amazing life," Melissa Sloan, the couple's granddaughter, told Fox 25 affiliate KBAK in Bakersfield, "but Bill and Jim really had an amazing life as children growing up."After about three years in Germany, Don and Maxine moved back to the states, where they eventually settled in Bakersfield and spent the next 55 years.Melissa remembers her grandparents being very active in the community and also very much in love."I never saw them fight and never even really saw them argue," said Sloan. "Grandma was his diamond. I mean, he adored her and loved her and would've gone to the end of the earth for her, and it was mutual."With age, the couple both began to have health problems. At 90-years-old, Don suffered from Alzheimer's, although still able to live fairly independently.Maxine, 87, was diagnosed in early 2014 with Stage 4 bladder cancer, and, after two failed surgeries, she decided to stop treatment.On June 5, she moved into her granddaughter's home."She was so happy to be here. I just remember her telling me how grateful she was," said Sloan.Don, who still lived in the couple's Westchester home, would visit Maxine every day until he fell and broke his hip on July 14. Don spent the next few days in the hospital but couldn't have surgery due to his declining health. That weekend he also moved into Melissa's home with his wife."This feels right," Melissa said, referring to a conversation she had with her sister prior to Don moving in. "They need to be together. They're going to die together. I knew it."The family pushed the beds together and helped the couple to hold hands."I said, 'Grandpa, look over there. Who is that?'' Sloan described."That's my beautiful wife," she said he replied with "the biggest grin on his face."That evening was the last time the two would be conscious together. Sloan said at 7 a.m. on July 21, she heard her grandmother take her last breaths. She died that morning.Around 10 a.m., her body was removed from the room, and when Sloan went back to check on her grandfather she was amazed."He had stopped breathing," said Sloan. "I believe in my heart that his soul had left that room with her."Don died at 11 on the morning of July 21, just four hours after the love of his life passed away."The most important thing in his life was leaving the earth," said Sloan, "and he left with her."A memorial service will be held for the couple on Aug. 21, which would have been Maxine's 88th birthday. It will be at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Memorial on Kern Canyon Road.
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