They said it wouldn’t work but after a lifetime together, Helen and Les Brown proved everyone wrong.
The California couple and high school sweethearts, who were both born on the same day and celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this year, died one day apart: Helen passed away on July 16, and Les died the next day. They were 94.
“It was a real love match, wasn’t it?” their oldest son, Les Jr., told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “They were together every day for 75 years.”
The Long Beach lovebirds eloped on Sept. 19, 1937, and were married against their own parents’ wishes, according to their sons. Helen was from a working-class family, while Les was from a wealthier one. Both sides believed the love would never last, but the two embodied the meaning of their wedding vows “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
The Browns moved to Long Beach in 1963, where Helen was a housewife with a knack for buying and selling area properties while Les owned a photography studio, serving as a photographer for the Navy.
Despite being born the same day, the Browns were two different people, according to their sons, who said Mom was strict while Dad was more laid-back. Like all couples, their children said they had issues to work through during their years together but that the two constantly reaffirmed their love, a special bond that was always on display.
Zach Henderson, owner of the Ma N’Pa Grocery, a corner store near the Brown’s home in Long Beach, said he saw the couple almost daily.
“About a year ago, [Helen] had her hand on his face and they were cheek to cheek, Henderson told ABC News. “She said, ‘Isn’t he the most handsome man you’ve ever seen?’ ”
At the time of their deaths, Les was suffering from Parkinson’s and Helen had stomach cancer, according to the Press-Telegram.
The Brown’s youngest son, Daniel, summed up his parents’ life and death.
“My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her.”