After nearly 59 years of marriage, two college sweethearts made the decision to end their lives together.
Jean and Joe Subers of Gainesville, Florida were found dead with three notes, one for the deputies who would find them and the others for their three sons, that asked for understanding.
Sons Jim, John and Jay Subers did not hide their parents’ double suicide, realizing the couple simply couldn’t live without one another but their mother’s agonizing pain from thyroid cancer and osteoporosis had become too much to bear.
“After enduring great physical pain for several years, Jean lost the strength to keep on living… And, Joe, watching his beloved Jean suffer, was unable to imagine life without her; so they both chose to end their lives together,” the obituary published in The Gainesville Sun read.
It continued, “They had both put their trust in Jesus for eternal life, and while we miss them terribly, we are confident that Jesus welcomed them both to heaven, and that mom is now pain free!”
“Mom and Dad indicated in their note that it was totally our decision what to disclose,”‘ Jim Subers said in an email to Ocala.com.
Although the deaths of their parents are painful, the family believes the decision was made out of love, both by Joe not wanting to leave his wife and by Jean not wanting to burden her loved ones.
The declining health of Jean, 80, left her unable to safely move about, and her husband, 81, spent much of his time caring for her.
“There was cancer and there were repeated falls from osteoporosis. She had a compound fracture in an arm. She had a broken hip that actually shortened one of her legs,” Jim said. “Most of the cartilage was gone in her shoulders and her knees, so every step hurt. She had 25 different doctors. Basically, she was just miserable.”
Although the family had a strong Christian faith, Joe had previously brought up that he was prepared to kill himself to avoid living without his beloved wife.
“Dad had told me three or four years ago that they had talked and that if things ever got so bad for one of them, that they were going to go together. I tried to talk him out of it,” Jim said. “But I said, Dad, I do not believe that suicide is unforgivable. When I read scripture there is only one sin that is not forgivable, and that is not receiving Jesus.”
Jim notes that the family’s decision to speak openly about their parents’ story was not meant to encourage others to end their lives prematurely.
According to the obituary, Jean and Joe met at the University of Florida in 1956 and wed the following year. They settled in Miami before developing the Tally Hills Wildlife ranch where they raised cattle and deer before retiring to Gainesville. The couple were active members of the First Presbyterian Church, the Gainesville Country Club, and several volunteering groups.