Devoted couple who were married for 67 years die just two hours apart in the same nursing home.
“They were strong Christians and therefore they knew where they were going, and they had no problem about going there,” Robert Nees said this afternoon of his late parents Hugh, 94, and Joan, 92.
They had been married for 67 years after meeting in the Hutt Valley and died on Tuesday at Eldon Lodge, Paraparaumu, where they were cared for since moving from their Waikanae home two and a half months ago.
His father, a retired Baptist minister suffering from cancer, passed away just two hours before his mother, who had a stroke on Sunday.
Asked whether they might have had any premonition of their close departure, Mr Nees said: “It’s so hard to know – it almost seems like it, doesn’t it?”
But he said his mother would not have known that her husband had preceded her, even though the couple “were in the same room, lying beside each other”, surrounded by family.
“Their departure, it’s sad but happy – life wasn’t easy for the last little while and that’s over, that’s all good.”
The couple had five children, of whom they are survived by two sons and a daughters as well as by 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
On top of suffering the death of two of their children, they also lost their 31-year-old grandson Nicholas Heyward in May last year, when he was shot dead by robbers from a motorcycle in Argentina.
Mr Heyward, whose mother Margaret Nees died in a car crash when he was younger, was born in Australia but travelled on a New Zealand passport.
His grandparents retired to the Kapiti Coast in the 1980s after Mr Nees Snr’s ministry took them to localities as diverse as Taumarunui and Papua New Guinea.
Mr Nees said his father started as a minister in Dunedin before moving to Levin and Gisborne, and then worked at the Baptist Union office when it was based in Wellington.
The couple’s lives will be celebrated at a service on Tuesday morning at Waikanae Baptist Church and the family is suggesting donations in lieu of flowers, to the Bible Society of New Zealand.