Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

A love story lasting 72 years

By Brooks Taylor

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

Every now and then, you run across a story that stops you in your tracks.

The other day I was surfing to one of my favorite websites when I ran across a love story that put everything into perspective. Although I am not a big fan of love stories, you didn’t have to be to like this one.

An Iowa couple married for 72 years died one hour apart last week in the hospital as they held hands, according to KCII-Television of Des Moines. Read on, it gets better and better.

Family members said the story of Gordon, 94, and Norma Yeager, 90, of State Center is a real-life love story and after reading it, it is impossible to argue.

On the day she graduated from high school, Norma Stock said yes to Gordon Yeager’s marriage proposal. The couple married May 26, 1939, in State Center.

“They’re very old-fashioned. They believed in marriage til death do you part,” son Dennis Yeager, the youngest of the Yeager’s four children, told KCII.

“Staying together for 72 years is good, I’d say that’s exceptional,” said daughter Donna Sheets.

The kids say their dad was always the life of the party while mom kept everything together.

“Anybody who came over — she was the hostess with the mostess. She just seriously — the more she did — the more she smiled,” said Dennis Yeager. “Dad would be the center of attention, like, ‘Weee look at me,’ and mom was like ‘get him away from me.’”

But Norma didn’t really want that distance and rarely left Gordon’s side for 72 years.

“They just loved being together,” Dennis Yeager continued. “Everybody argues once in awhile. But dad would always say, ‘I have to stick around. I can’t go until she does because I have to stay here for her and she would say the same thing.’”

The couple, according to their son, left home Oct. 12, to go into town, but they didn’t make it.

At the intersection of U.S. Highway 30 and a county road, just west of Marshalltown, state troopers said Gordon pulled in front of an oncoming car. The crash report said the other driver attempted to avoid the crash but was unable to stop in time.

“I rushed from Des Moines where I was working and saw them in the hospital,” said Dennis Yeager.

Nurses in the intensive care unit of the Marshalltown’s hospital, knew not to separate the couple.

“They brought them in the same room in intensive care and put them together — they were holding hands in ICU. They were not really responsive,” reported Dennis Yeager.

Gordon died at 3:38 p.m., holding hands with his wife as the family they built surrounded them.

“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,” said Dennis Yeager. ”But we were like, ‘he isn’t breathing. How does he still have a heart beat?’ The nurse checked and said that’s because they were holding hands and it’s going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up.”

Seventy minutes later, Norma passed too. “Neither one of them would’ve wanted to be without the other. I couldn’t figure out how it was going to work,” said Donna Sheets. “We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way.”

“They just loved being together,” said Dennis Yeager.

At their funeral Oct. 18, Norma and Gordon held hands in their casket. Family said they will be cremated and their ashes mixed together.

Cynics would question why Gordon, at age 94, was still driving. But let’s save that for another time and place because the question does spoil a great love story.