MEYERSDALE, Pa. – Barry Werner says his mother always put his father first during their 65-year marriage, but that changed earlier this week.
On Tuesday, LaVerne Werner died at the southwestern Pennsylvania personal care home. About 12 hours later, Robert Werner followed.
“They did everything together,” Werner told the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown. “They didn’t always agree with each other, but if one went, the other was going to follow soon.”
The couple spent their lives in Meyersdale, the tiny borough about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh where LaVerne Werner was born in 1920 and her husband in 1921. They moved into a room together at the personal care home about four months ago.
Werner’s mother died after a series of mini-strokes, “She was tired. She was ready to give up,” her son said.
Werner said he’s convinced his father, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was aware of her death, even though his dementia made it difficult to know what his father perceived.
“Something was wrong,” Werner said. “I could tell by his actions that something was bothering him.”
The couple married after Robert Werner returned from World War II service in Iwo Jima, where he saw American troops raise the flag on the Pacific island. Werner was wounded by Japanese machine gun fire as he crawled across a road.
Robert Werner came home and worked as a repairman on radios, TVs and organs, and eventually also sold travel trailers. The couple traveled to every state but Alaska, as well as England and Mexico.
Tuesday’s journey was their last together, their son said.
“She went in peace and he did the same thing,” Werner said. “I think he heard her calling, that she told him that it was OK.”