Couple married 67 years dies hours apart from each other holding hands

Image 1 of 2

If Floyd Hartwig, 90 and his 89-year-old wife Violet couldn't die arm-in-arm after a lifetime of devotion to each other, watching them pass away together hand-in-hand was the next best thing, according to their daughter.

"The whole thing was overwhelming, pretty traumatic, but we were trying to go by their wishes that they wanted to die at home and that they wanted to go together, they were that devoted to each other," Donna Scharton, of Fresno, Calif., told Friday.

The Hartwigs died at their beloved 20-acre Easton ranch Feb. 11. Scharton and other family members, sensing that death was imminent for each one, made sure husband and wife knew they were at each other's side.

"We pushed the hospice beds together as close together as we could and then we put their hands together so they could be holding hands," Scharton said. "My father died holding my mother's hand and then my mother died five hours later."

Doctors had told Floyd he had two weeks to live after blood tests showed he had suffered kidney failure. "He died two weeks to the day," his daughter said.

In his 60s he had survived colon and bladder cancer as his wife, "Vi," stayed by his side during the chemotherapy treatments.

Scharton said her father's illnesses failed to stop him from working around the ranch, mowing the lawn and hauling firewood.

The cancers also failed to stop him from caring for Violet, who had suffered strokes and, in later years, dementia.

Scharton said in January her mother had all but stopped eating. She weighed just 60 pounds when she died. Still to the very end, she and her husband ate breakfast together every morning.

"We could tell from the holidays that she was doing down a lot but he would not give up in helping her," she told

She recalled their last visit to the doctor's office a few weeks ago. Her father was reluctant to tell the doctor he was feeling a sharp pain in his side.

"I'm okay," she said he told the doctor when he asked about the pain. "I just want Vi fixed."

The Hartwigs married in 1947. They began a romance after rekindling a grammar school acquaintance at a Fresno dance club while Floyd Hartwig was home on leave from the Navy. After the Navy he delivered eggs and worked as a foreman on a farm. He raised cotton and turkeys on his ranch. He and Violet went on to have three children, four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Scharton said a hospice caretaker was brought in to take care of her parents.

"We told both of the them on the last day, when they were really struggling, that it was okay to go," she said. "We wanted them to know it was okay with us. It was time. They wanted to go together."

Scharton said at the funeral the family positioned the two caskets at an angle to signify their love for each other. In the middle were photos from their wedding and flowers.

"I think everybody kind of felt they had a special connection to other," the daughter said. "You could tell they had a special love."

This story originally appeared on