Gordon and Norma Yeager died together, after 72 years of marriage.
Gordon and Norma Yeager from Iowa, who had been married for 72 years, had only one hour separation between them in their passing.
Gordon, 94, and Norma Yeager, 90, had never been separated, even after their tragic car accident which sent them both to the hospital.
Gordon and Norma were both born in Iowa before he moved to a farm a Minnesota with his family. He later came back in the town, when he was 16, to work at the Chevrolet Garage in State Center, Iowa, a business which he would eventually go on to own.
Once back in the town, Gordon Yeager fell in love with Norma who was still studying at high school.
After his proposal, Gordon and Norma were married on the very day that she graduated, May 26, 1939.
They had a small wedding in the same evening held in the home of Gordon’s sister, the expense of which was covered by his first pay cheque.
Gordon and Norma Yeager spent their first few years of marriage in California where he worked as a welder in the shipyards during the Second World War while volunteering at night for the war effort.
The newlyweds later returned to the town of State Center and had four children – Donna, born in 1940, Roger in 1943, Gordon in 1946 and the youngest Dennis in 1949.
Tragically both middle sons Roger and Gordon later died in car crashes.
Gordon and Norma Yeager first ran a hardware store before taking over the Chevrolet Garage with Gordon’s brother Roger until both men retired at 65.
Their youngest son, Dennis, 62, described his parents as incredibly active individuals.
“We took family camping trips in Iowa and Canada but spent most of the time at Clear Lake, Minnesota. We rented a cabin and went boating.
“I remember my Dad, even at almost 60 years old, water-skiing at Clear Lake. One time, when I was driving the boat he disappeared under for such a long time, that my Mom was worried sick.
“When he eventually surfaced, she screamed at him, <<what were you doing down there?>> to which he yelled back, <<well I wasn’t coming back up without my trunks!>>”
When they retired, Gordon and Norma Yeager spent half the year in Tucson, Arizona, enjoying the outdoors and fishing in the Hoover Dam.
Despite their closeness, Dennis admits at times his parents were “total opposites”.
“They just loved being together but of course they would get mad at each other.
“My Dad was very sociable, he loved doing anything that involved being with people. My Mom was quieter but she would support my Dad in whatever he was doing. She would be there making sure everyone had something to eat, had a drink in their hand.
“She was such a perfectionist. When they had the garage, she won every award going from Chevrolet for her book-keeping. I remember they would be up together poring over those books until 2:00 a.m. if there was even a penny out of place.”
After Gordon and Norma Yeager celebrated the rare achievement of a 70th wedding anniversary, they loved to spend time watching sports, socializing and walking their little Yorkie dog Radar.
Last week, while making a trip into town, the car Gordon Yeager was driving mistakenly pulled out in front of another.
According to the police report, the oncoming driver tried to avoid the collision, but it wasn’t able to stop in time.
Dennis Yeager said he found his parents at hospital sharing a unit in the intensive care unit, never separated and holding hands they lay, though “not really responsive”.
In the same day, on October 12, at 3:38pm, Gordon Yeager passed away, with Norma and family beside him. The anomaly began though for the family, when Gordon’s heart monitor kept beeping.
Dennis Yeager recalled: “It was really strange. They were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn’t figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going.”
“But we were like, he isn’t breathing. How does he still have a heart beat?’
Their son asked a nurse who checked, pointing out the couple’s hands which were still locked together.
“Her heart was beating through him and picking it up,” the nurse explained.
One hour later, at 4:48pm, Norma Yeager died too.
Gordon and Norma Yeager held hands at their funeral on October 18, sharing the same casket. Their family said after Gordon and Norma Yeager are cremated and their ashes will be mixed together.
Gordon and Norma Yeager are survived by Norma’s sister, Virginia Kell, and Gordon’s brother, Roger, along with their children Donna and Dennis as well as 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
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