On August 11, Ruthie, 89, and Harold “Doc” Knapke, 91, died within 11 hours of each other. The remarkable pair met in 3rd grade, lived out the last years of their lives sharing a room in a western Ohio nursing home, and continued their torrid love affair for just days before their 65th wedding anniversary.
When reporters asked Jeff Simon, 20, their grandson, what kept them alive to within 11 hour of each other, he said, “their faith in God.” Both were devout Roman Catholics. “Obviously all of us grandkids loved them very much,” he said. “They were very good role models for us. It was very hard to see them go at the same time, but it was a good thing in the end to see the miracles God can do.” In their joint funeral mass, the granddaughters carried Ruth’s casket, while the grandsons carried Harold’s.
As their children discussed their lives, they noted how important was Ruth to Harold’s longevity. Even though her dad’s health and strength had been failing, “he couldn’t stop being her protector; it seemed he didn’t want to leave her behind,” said daughter Margaret Knapke in her eulogy.
Ruth developed a severe infection just days before she died. That prompted the children to warn their father. Aware of his beloved’s approaching death, “Doc” spent some sleepless nights, after which he developed a calm–and began to rapidly fail. “We believe he did that as final act of love for her. We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next,” said daughter Carol Jean Romie, “and he did.”
What keeps us living? From Ruth and “Doc” Knapke, we say: A strong faith in God; a strong love for one another, shown in time spent together, and in a sense of need for one another. What keeps you living?