Skip to main content

See also:

California husband, wife married over 60 years die within hours of each other

After nearly 62 years of marriage, a California couple is making headlines with their touching story. Though they stayed together until “death do us part,” Don and Maxine Simpson did not have to spend much time apart on Earth at the end of their lives, passing away within just four hours of each other.

Don and Maxine Simpson hold hands from their side-by-side beds at Melissa Sloan's home in Bakersfield, California.
Melissa Sloan, via CBS News

Don and Maxine’s story begins at a Bakersfield bowling alley, where they were first introduced by mutual friends. They became engaged just six months later and were married in 1952. Don’s career as a civil engineer with the U.S. Army later took the couple to Germany, where they adopted twin boys from an orphanage, and the family eventually wound up back in Bakersfield. The Simpsons were also active with civic groups such as the local YMCA, Rotary, and the Boys & Girls Club.

The AP notes on Tuesday that Maxine Simpson had been sick with bladder cancer, while Alzheimer’s, a broken hip, and pneumonia had all affected Don in his final weeks. Melissa Sloan, one of the couple’s five grandchildren, tells Bakersfield’s ABC 23 that as the health of both of her grandparents declined, they were moved into a spare bedroom in the family’s house in early June so they could stay together. Don was briefly treated at a hospital for the broken hip and pneumonia, but on July 19 he was moved back into the house and a bed next to his wife’s.

Sloan heard her grandmother take her last breath at around 7 a.m. on July 21 and found that she had passed upon going to the spare room to check on her. Maxine’s body was taken from the room around 10 a.m. and Sloan noticed quickly that Don’s breathing was becoming more labored.

“I walked them out with her body, walked back in to check on grandpa and he quit breathing as soon as her body left the room,” she said. “ He left with her, and they passed four hours apart from each other.”

They were 90 and 87, respectively, and Sloan calls the ending to their love story “absolutely beautiful.”

“All Don wanted was to be with his beautiful wife. He adored my grandmother, loved her to the end of the Earth,” she said.