Mo. Couple Married 60 Years Die of Coronavirus Less Than an Hour Apart
A Missouri husband and wife who would have celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary later this month died less than an hour apart of complications from COVID-19.
Bill, 85, and Pat Olwig, 83, both died on May 1, just days after testing positive for coronavirus and being placed in the intensive care unit, family members told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
They were remembered as dedicated parents to their seven children, 20 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, and active parishioners at St. Ferdinand in Florissant and St. Joe’s of Cottleville, according to their joint obituary.
“They were wonderful role models, dear friends to so many and unconditionally loved their entire family,” the obituary read. “They were most proud of the family they created and were the most happy when all were together.”
The couple first met on a double date in the 1950s, and shared an instant spark after Bill reached under the table to touch Pat’s knee, their only daughter Rose told the Post-Dispatch.
“Mom always said that’s all it took. Right then she knew he was the right one,” she said.
They married in May 1959, and Bill went on to co-own the sheet metal business C&R Mechanical, while Pat worked as a preschool teacher and also served as a religion instructor for special education students.
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“Bill was the best boss that I have ever worked for! At C&R many wondered why we, that worked for Bill, always went the extra mile for him. The answer was simple: Bill always cared for his men first and always backed them up 100%,” a former coworker commented under the obituary.
Though the couple lived in Florissant for many years, they moved into an independent living apartment at a long-term care facility in O’Fallon in September, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Daughter Rose said they thrived there, making sure to catch all of the facility’s happy hours and bingo nights.
Both Bill and Pat reportedly developed a cough several weeks ago, and though their family was worried, they believed it might just be a seasonal cold.
But Bill was hospitalized on April 26 after his temperature spiked, and Pat followed about six hours later.
By the next morning, both had tested positive for COVID-19 and they were put in intensive care.
Due to the years of medical problems both Bill and Pat had, “we knew then, it would probably be the end,” Rose told the Post-Dispatch.
The family reportedly watched on Zoom as a family friend and Catholic priest put on layers of personal protective equipment to perform a religious sacrament for the couple as they lay in their hospital beds.
When the time came to take them off life support, family members sat outside the hospital under a tent in the parking lot, as they could not visit in person due to restrictions.
Bill died around 12:40 p.m., and Pat followed just 40 minutes later, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The couple’s son Pat told the outlet that Bill had hoped to donate their bodies to St. Louis University for research upon their deaths, but that the coronavirus outbreak had made that wish impossible.
“They wanted to do it just as another way to give. My dad had said, ‘Well, maybe someone can learn something,’” he said. “It’s devastating. And I know they’re just this one small part of this thing that’s hitting people all over the world.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 10,025 cases and 512 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Missouri, according to The New York Times. In the U.S., there have been at least 1.3 million cases and 80,684 deaths.
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