Family distraught that wife couldn’t be with husband of nearly 70 years as he passed

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A family is devastated after they were unable to say goodbye to 92-year-old Theodore Patrick, who died shortly after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Rhode Island man had been married to his wife, Pearl, for nearly 70 years.

Patrick’s family told sister station WPRI that the couple met while at a roller skating rink, and it was always easy to see how much they loved each other.

“If my mother got sick he always asked, ‘How’s Pearl? How’s Pearl?’ and vice versa,” daughter Sharon Laforest said. “They really, really loved each other.”

He leaves behind his wife, five children and seven grandchildren.

Patrick lived with Pearl at Stillwater Assisted Living in Greenville, and while his family praised the staff there, they said it was heartbreaking not being able to say goodbye.

“It’s really upsetting that not only could the family, the kids, the grandchildren not be there when he was passing, but my grandmother could not be in the room,” grandson Matthew Laforest said. “After 68 years of marriage, I wanted them to be by [each other’s] side when they passed.”

Patrick’s family said that Pearl turned 94 on Tuesday, but she is in poor health. The family is urging everyone to practice social distancing and to wear masks to protect those who are most vulnerable.

“Just listen to everybody,” Sharon said. “Wear a mask, be diligent with cleaning and just hug the people you are with every day.”

Sharon said her father’s funeral was difficult for everyone since the family had to take turns visiting the burial site. She said her father served in the U.S. Navy and they plan to have a burial service with military honors at a later date.

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