Extraordinary love story

After 72 years of marriage they had only an hour’s separation between them in their passing, yet their locked hands never let go.

The family of the Iowa couple say their life together was a real-life love story, never separated, even after their tragic car accident which sent them both to the hospital.

‘They believed in marriage,’ Dennis Yeager, the youngest son of Gordon Yeager, 94, and wife Norma, 90, told MailOnline. ‘They chose each other and once they had committed, that was it.’

While bringing up their young children, the Yeagers first ran a hardware store before taking over the Chevrolet Garage with Gordon’s brother Roger until both men retired at 65.

The couple’s youngest son Dennis, 62, described his parents as incredibly active individuals.

He said: ‘We took family camping trips in Iowa and Canada but spent most of the time at Clear Lake, Minnesota. We rented a cabin and went boating.

‘I remember my Dad, even at almost 60 years old, water-skiing at Clear Lake. One time, when I was driving the boat he disappeared under for such a long time, that my Mom was worried sick.

‘When he eventually surfaced, she screamed at him, ”what were you doing down there?” to which he yelled back, ”well I wasn’t coming back up without my trunks!”’

When they retired, the Yeagers would spend half the year in Tucson, Arizona, enjoying the outdoors and fishing in the Hoover Dam.

Despite their closeness, Dennis admits at times his parents were ‘total opposites’.

He said: ‘They just loved being together but of course they would get mad at each other.

‘My Dad was very sociable, he loved doing anything that involved being with people. My Mom was quieter but she would support my Dad in whatever he was doing. She would be there making sure everyone had something to eat, had a drink in their


‘She was such a perfectionist. When they had the garage, she won every award going from Chevrolet for her book-keeping. I remember they would be up together poring over those books until 2am if there was even a penny out of place.’

After celebrating the rare achievement of a 70th wedding anniversary, surrounded by family, Dennis said his parents loved to spend time watching sports, socialising and walking their little Yorkie dog Radar.

‘They were not your typical 90-year-olds,’ he added.

Dennis said that his father would continuously 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.’

Last Wednesday while making a trip into town, the car Gordon Yeager was driving mistakenly pulled out in front of another.

A police report said the oncoming driver tried to avoid the collision, but it wasn’t able to stop in time.

Rushing to the hospital, Dennis said he found his parents sharing a unit in the intensive care unit.

Never separated and holding hands they lay, though ‘not really responsive,’ he said.

That afternoon at 3:38pm, Gordon passed away, with his wife and family beside him. The anomaly began though for the family, when Gordon’s heart monitor kept beeping.

‘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,’ Dennis recalled.

‘But we were like, he isn’t breathing. How does he still have a heart beat?’

Dennis asked a nurse who checked, pointing out the couple’s hands which were still locked together.

‘Her heart was beating through him and picking it up,’ Dennis said the nurse explained.

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Extraordinary love story