Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 21, 2013

Couple passes away within minutes of each other

KOKOMO, Ind. —

After 63 years of marriage, an Indiana couple passed away of natural causes within minutes of each other after praying God would allow them to die together. The couple said they didn’t want to live without each other after months of suffering from deteriorating health.

Funeral services for Earle Howard, 86, and Lou Nell Howard, 82, were held Feb. 19 in Kokomo where a crowd heard First Church of the Nazarene Pastor David Leeder described them as “one of the greatest love stories of our time.”

Earle and Lou Nell were married on July 11, 1949. He served in the Army during World War II and eventually became the Kokomo Police Chief.

Leeder said throughout their marriage, Earle and Lou Nell demonstrated a devotion to each other that he’s rarely seen in other couples. “There was no doubt that Earle Howard loved his wife with a passion, and Lou Nell absolutely adored Earle,” he said. “To see one without the other, it just seemed like they weren’t quite complete.”

“They were the most elegant couple I have ever known,” he continued. “They were always pristinely turned out for church, always with smiles on their faces, and always giving words of appreciation and encouragement.”

Even in their old age, Leeder said they constantly expressed their love for one another.

“In the last months, it was just holding hands, warm smiles, and words of kindness,” he said.

However, Leeder said the couple’s health rapidly deteriorated over the past year. Lou Nell had been diagnosed with dementia, and Earle suffered from a serious heart condition.

Last month, Earle decided to go off dialysis. Doctors gave him three weeks to live. Lou Nell’s health was so bad she was set to move into a nursing home.

So last Wednesday, Leeder decided to pay a visit to the couple. He read scripture, and offered what would be the couple’s final communion service.

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