The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Community News Network

February 20, 2013

Indiana couple pass away within minutes of each other

KOKOMO, Ind. — After 63 years of marriage, a Kokomo couple passed away of natural causes Friday 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 Tuesday at First Church of the Nazarene, where a crowd gathered to commemorate the couple and hear what Pastor David Leeder described as “one of the greatest love stories of our time.”

Earle and Lou Nell married in Kokomo on July 11, 1949. Earle served in the Army during World War II and eventually became the Kokomo Police Chief. He was elected twice as Howard County Sheriff, and served as a state representative from 1986 to 1994.

Leeder said throughout their entire marriage, Earle and Lou Nell demonstrated a devotion to each other that he’s rarely seen in other couples. Leeder serves as senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene, where the Howard’s attended for years.

“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 each other.

“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 last 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 on Friday.

So last Wednesday, Leeder decided to pay a visit to the couple, who were under hospice care at their apartment at North Woods Village. He read scripture, and offered what would be the couple’s final communion service.

During that time, Earle shared he was ready to die, but he had one concern — leaving Lou Nell alone.

“He said, ‘I don’t know how she’ll manage, and I don’t want to leave her. I don’t know what to do.’”

So Leeder suggested praying God would allow Earle to pass away at the same time as his wife.

“He said, ‘Pastor, how perfect that would be.’”

The next day — Valentine’s Day —  the couple’s only daughter, Julie, decided to spend the evening with her parents.

“Their final night was truly a love story,” she said.

Earle said Thursday night he’d like a strawberry milkshake to share with Lou Nell, so Julie went and picked one up. Throughout the evening, they simply talked, watched TV and finally went to bed.

On Friday morning, Julie walked into the bedroom to wake up her parents. Lou Nell was planning on leaving that day for the nursing home.  

But when she entered the bedroom, Julie said she had to stand in the doorway in amazement. Lou Nell was laying in the bed on her left side, and Earle lay on his right.

“Their heads where touching, almost as if they were in the shape of a heart,” she said “They looked so content.”

Julie woke up Earle, who got up and dressed, but Lou Nell wouldn’t wake up. She was in some kind of comatose state.

Earle was dressed by that time, but said he didn’t feel well and sat down in a chair. Moments later, he died.

Julie, who works as a nurse, walked back into the bedroom and saw her mother take her last breath.

The couple passed away within just minutes, just as Earle had prayed.

“I can just hear my dad saying, ‘Honey, hurry up, Jesus is waiting for us,’” Julie said. “My mom wouldn’t have lived long without my dad, and God knew that. Dad didn’t want to leave my mom, and God knew that as well.”

Leeder agreed he believed it was a divine plan that led to Earle and Lou Nell passing at the same time.

“I believe God has been so kind, gracious and good to answer the prayers of a man who was troubled about leaving the one he was devoted to for over 63 years,” he said.

Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers spoke Tuesday at the funeral, and said Earle was “one of the most dedicated public servants ever in this community.” But the motivation for his dedication was Lou Nell and Julie, Rogers said.

“Often a man like Earle is thought to be so driven by his profession that he ignores his family,” he said. “But Earle showed us we should be public servants because of our families — because of your family. He did what he did because of his family.”

Julie said losing both her parents at the same time was tough to handle, but she said she’s rejoicing that their prayers were answered.

“I don’t see it as their last night together, but the beginning of their life in heaven in God’s eternal love,” she said. “For sixty-three-and-a-half years, they were together on earth. Now, they’re together in eternity.”

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO: Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 3, 2014

  • watching-tv.jpg Cutting the cord on cable TV, and not missing it a bit

    Three years ago, Royse City Herald Banner reporter Chris McGathey and his family decided to ditch pay TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other cheaper web-based services. It's a decision they haven't regretted.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_mariejones.jpg 92-year-old fan bleeds UK Wildcats blue

    As the Kentucky Wildcats prepare for their 16th Final Four appearance this weekend, they’ve reawakened the passions of fans across the country, including one woman who watches every game on TV, even though she can’t clearly see the players’ faces.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_baylor.jpg VIDEO: Angels hitting coach suffers bizarre leg injury

    LA Angels hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a broken leg while squatting to catch a ceremonial first pitch from former Angel Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • barbour021614.jpg Sibling says Dexter drama motivated sister's 'lie' of mass murder

    The older sister of Miranda Barbour, who claims she murdered more than 22 "bad people" over six years, says the story is a lie that stems from infatuation with the Showtime TV series about a Miami cop who leads a secret life as a serial killer.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

Graduation Salutes
Seasonal Content