Ohio couple dies of coronavirus minutes apart, family says: ‘Our hearts are shattered’


Dick and Shirley Meek, married for over 70 years, were holding hands as they died within minutes of each other due to the novel coronavirus. Their favorite music played gently in the background.

“It was a beautiful passing,” reads an obituary from Fischer Funeral Home. “Theirs was a love story for the ages. They had a fairytale ending…Our hearts are shattered, but we are at peace knowing that they are together forever.”

The Ohio couple, aged 89 and 87, died on Jan. 16 about one week after they tested positive for coronavirus and were admitted to Riverside Hospital in Columbus, per local news outlet WBNS. They were scheduled to receive the vaccine three days later.

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“Mom passed first,” said Debbie Howell, a daughter to the couple. “They were holding hands. The nurse put mom’s head on my dad’s shoulder and she said to dad ‘Dick it’s OK to let go now. Shirley’s waiting for you’ and he passed within minutes.”

Howell and her sisters Vicki Harper and Kelly Meek told WBNS precautions were eased to celebrate the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary on Dec. 22, and then the pair developed colds. After their conditions quickly deteriorated at the hospital, and no treatment options were left, the hospital staff agreed to let the couple share a room so they could be with one another.

The obituary describes the couple as childhood sweethearts, who led lives of love and passion.

“Theirs was a life of adventure – from sky diving to zip-lining, their bucket list was amazing!! Having devout love for family, they still always made time for each other. They met every single day, no matter where they were in the world, at 3:00 for a date and a toast to each other,” the obituary reads.

“We have years of warm memories of holiday parties, backyard cookouts, vacations, birthdays, days on the beach, annual Meek Family Game Show nights, making silly family videos, water skiing and boating, love, laughter and togetherness. Our life together with them as inspiration was a wild and crazy ride!!”

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The daughters shared the couple’s story to urge others to stay safe amid the virus.

Dick, or Edwin Richard, Meek had served in the U.S. Air Force as a Sergeant and was a carpenter, while Shirley worked 25 years at Burger Chef and was a great cook and homemaker, per the obituary.

They are survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews.



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