Tennessee husband, wife of 65 years die minutes apart holding hands

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After 65 years of marriage, a Joelton, Tennessee couple is now spending eternity together.

Charley Ray and Martha Jean Harris both ended up in the hospital for different reasons and just minutes apart, they both peacefully passed away while holding hands.

Charley Ray and Martha Jean Harris
Charley Ray and Martha Jean Harris (Picture taken BEFORE their deaths) (Courtesy Richard Harris)

“I fully expected them to come home, but that’s not the way it played out,” their son Richard Harris said.

Instead, their story played out the way they had always written it.

“They fell in love, and it was forever.”

A love that began at just 12 years old.

“They started going together and never broke up,” Harris explained. 

At 19, they tied the knot. Their love blossomed over the years as they raised three children.

“Daddy was a Sunday school teacher and sang in the choir and mom was real involved in ladies auxiliary,” said Harris, who is the youngest of the three children. 

Their commitment to each other and their family never wavered.

As they aged, their health started to decline from different ailments, and two weeks ago, they were transported together in the same ambulance to TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville.

“They were in the emergency room together and both got admitted.”

Over the next 14 days, nurses would wheel Charley and Martha to one another’s room to visit, where the conversation mostly consisted of the same three words.

“I love you,” Richard said, as his voice began to break, and his eyes filled with tears.

On Monday, Charley who was talking and eating, went to say goodbye one last time to his middle-school sweetheart when his own health took a turn for the worse.

“I could see Daddy getting worse rapidly. He was chasing her,” said Harris. 

“She was pronounced [deceased], and 42 minutes later Daddy joined her … holding hands.”

A heartbreaking, yet beautiful love story that the family says still continues today.

“You know this is just conjecture of course, but it’s nice to think about that they held hands going through the gates,” Harris said, smiling.

The Harris’ will have a joint funeral service at New Hope Free Will Baptist Church on Saturday. They will later be cremated, and the family has decided to commingle their ashes and bury them together at the church.

It’s the same church where the couple said “I do” 65 years ago.

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