Couple Dies 33 Hours Apart After Being Married for 68 Years: 'He Waited for Mother to Go First'
Corinne and Bob Johnson had been married for 68 years and raised seven children together before they died within a day of each other
A Minnesota man couldn’t bear the thought of living without his wife of 68 years — and as it turned out, he wouldn’t have to.
Corinne and Robert “Bob” Johnson were inseparable from the time their love story began to their final farewells that came just 33 hours apart, KARE 11 reports.
On Sunday, Nov. 24, Corinne, 87, died from congestive heart failure. The following day, Robert, 88, passed away following a battle with cancer.
And while its certainly difficult to lose both parents in less than two days, their children said they were hardly surprised by the heartbreaking chain of events.
“They went on their terms,” the couple’s son Brent Johnson told KARE 11, adding that his father was known for his chivalrous actions of allowing others, including his beloved wife, to go first through doorways and buffet lines.
“So it was only fitting that, in the end, he waited for mother to go first and then he passed away,” he said.
Bob and Corinne’s love story began as children, when they grew up beside each other on a farm in Nicollet County, according to their obituaries.
Corinne quickly fell in love with Bob, who was her brother Harold’s best friend, and the pair tied the knot on Oct. 20, 1951.
Because the farm was such an important part of their lives — “[Corinne] got her first taste of life as a farmer’s wife when Robert worked all day harvesting with his brother Jerry before their wedding ceremony,” her obituary states — it was a no-brainer for the couple to settle down at Norseland Eastview Farm in Saint Peter.
Over the next 67 years, Bob and Corinne raised livestock and grew crops, as they expanded their family on the rural Minnesota land.
“Robert’s hands were evidence he was a hard worker on the farm but he always made time to be there for his seven children,” Bob’s obituary states. “He would milk the cows at all hours of the night in order to go to his children’s sporting events. He and his wife put thousands of miles on their car to watch their kids participate.”
In addition to their seven children, Bob and Corinne also shared 14 grandchildren and 15 greatgrandchildren.
The couple lived on the farmland in their small home until six months ago when Bob was admitted into the hospital for his cancer. Not long after, Corinne joined him with heart issues, KARE 11 reports.
A few days before the mother of seven passed, Corinne told her husband that she loved him and gave him a kiss. The sweet interaction would sadly become one of their last as she was gone by Nov. 24.
When the sad news was delivered to Bob, his children recalled how heartbroken their father was to lose his life partner.
“When mom passed, they pulled the curtain between the two beds, he just stared at the curtain,” the couple’s daughter, Beth Kinkeade, told the outlet, while her brother noted that tears began to well up in Bob’s eyes.
“I sort of thought he looked like he could go for weeks,” added their son Bruce Johnson, who works as a doctor that specializes in cancer. “As soon as mom died, he went downhill and died in a day. It’s hard to imagine it’s a coincidence.”
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Even as they approached the end of their lives, the Johnson children said their parents were always united as one.
“One plus one equals one,” their son said. “Together, they were one person.”
And despite the bittersweet ending, their daughter Lora Dennis said she knows her parents are now together once again.
“I think we all fretted about what would happen when one of them went and how would the other one survive and their plan was to not have us worry about that,” Lora said. “How could anything be better than that?”
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“I think we all know that they’re in a better place,” she added.
Visitations were on Monday and a funeral for the couple was held on Tuesday morning.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Scandian Grove Lutheran Church, where the Johnsons devoted so much of their time, the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, 4-H, or the donor’s choice of charity.