Life Family

Tuesday 25 October 2016

High school sweethearts married for 73 years die within 5 minutes of each other

Published 16/04/2015 | 11:40

William and Lillian Wilson
William and Lillian Wilson

A couple have died within five minutes of each other in separate nursing homes, after seven decades of marriage.

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William Wilson and his wife Lillian, who both suffered from Alzheimers, passed away earlier this month.

Lillian “Lill” (89) and William “Wild Bill” (93) met in high school before getting married in 1941.

William was enlisted to the US military and had to turn down a Western Kentucky University scholarship. The young couple decided to elope despite protests from both their parents.

William and Lillian Wilson
William and Lillian Wilson

Four years later, William returned home from the army and managed a few department stores and eventually set up a morning radio show to promote the business.

Listeners came familiar with his jovial greeting, which went like, “Hello, this is Wild Bill Wilson, your old red-headed, freckle-faced, snaggle-toothed, snuff-dipping buddy coming to you from Bower’s Department Store.”

William, Lillian and their son Doug moved to Atlanta where they spent their life savings on a shopping centre but due to planning decisions, things did not work out.

Instead, William invested his last $800 into a successful property business while Lillian worked as a bank teller.

The couple spent their final years in separate nursing homes; Lilian in Lexington and William in Wilmore, a thirty minute drive away. Doug (66) would regularly drive his mother to see her husband, and she recently told a local newspaper, “I’m not going ‘till Bill goes.”

On April 7th, Doug received two heartbreaking phone calls in quick succession.

William and Lillian Wilson
William and Lillian Wilson

“Tuesday morning at 3.52am I got a call from Thomson Hood (nursing home). ‘Your father has passed.’I expected that, I knew it was coming. Then five minutes later at 3.57am, got a call from Richard Place, ‘Doug I’m sorry to tell you that your mother has passed.’

“I told the nurse, my father just passed away a couple of minutes ago. She said, ‘Oh my God, that’s like The Notebook movie, you know. That they went together.’”

“How they’ve stayed together, through all these struggles and employment changes, is just amazing. They’re a really loved couple.”

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