A couple who’d recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary, died within 15 minutes of each other, just feet apart.
Bob and Ruth Kretschmer’s story has been described as ‘devotion, love and courage’ by their three children – daughters, Bobbi and Ruthann and son, David.
Two weeks ago, 92-year-old Bob, even though he was fighting cancer, believed he had to persevere for the sake of his 90-year-old wife, because he didn’t want her to go into a home, according to their daughter Bobbi Boston.
Bob was battling lung cancer and according to their daughter Ruthann Koenig, it had spread to his bones and liver, while Ruth had Alzheimer’s, writes Chicago Sun Times.
Before he died, Bob told a friend:
I’m going downhill but I have to hang on because I can’t let Ruth go to a home.
The couple’s children took turns caring for them, along with the assistance of ‘devoted helpers’.
Ruth and Bob spent their final days next to each other in hospital beds set up in their Medinah home, in which they’d lived for the past 60 years.
Just before 10am on Friday, Ruth stopped breathing and it was as if Bob had ‘sensed it’, relatives said.
A carer was holding Bob’s hand and she was crying. He asked her what was wrong, and she said, ‘Ruth’s gone,’ Bobbi said, before adding ‘and then his hand went limp’.
Within the 20 minutes of Ruth passing, a hospice nurse arrived at the house and officially pronounced her dead.
Daughter Ruthann said:
[The nurse] said: ‘She’s gone,’ and she stood up, turned around and said: ‘Oh my God, he’s gone.’
It was as if he was released from his duty. As soon as he heard mom declared at 10:25am, dad was declared at 10:26am. I believe to the bottom of my soul he hung on for her.
The couple met at a roller rink near to where Bob had grown up, but he was called up for duty in World War II.
They married after Bob returned from action – and by 1955, they were settled into the home he built in Medinah, along with a cow, horse, rooster, Irish setters, bunnies and a goat named Billy.
Bob was fondly known as ‘the life of the party’, he was an outgoing character and Ruth was considered highly driven and serious.
Ruth has been remembered as being a ‘loyal Republican who fiercely advocated for fair pricing for Illinois citizens by utilities’ – she had a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and also took classes at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Kirk Dillard, a former Illinois state senator said:
Ruth was a loyal Republican, but fiercely independent and always did her homework.
In addition to their children, Bobbie, Ruth and David, they leave behind an amazing 12 grandchildren as well as 10 great-grandchildren.
Rest in peace.