For Bob and Ruth Kretschmer, life without each other wasn’t an option.
The elderly couple from a Chicago suburb celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary last week, and five days later, they died peacefully in their Medinah home just minutes apart.
The pair, ages 92 and 90, passed away within 15 minutes of each other – an act family members said was meant to be.
Bob Kretschmer, a World War II veteran with two Purple Hearts, had always been a fighter – and he fought until his very last breath, holding on during a battle with cancer to stay with his wife until her time came too.
"They both wanted to die in this house and if my father went first, that wasn't going to happen for my mother," the couple’s daughter Roberta "Bobbi" Boston told the Daily Herald. "He hung in there for her. After she passed away, he asked why everyone was crying, then he passed away.”
Ruth Kretschmer, a former Republican politician who served as a DuPage County Board Member and the chair of its zoning committee along with 20 years on the Illinois Commerce Commission, had been in hospice for two years and was reportedly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to family members.
Bob Kretschmer was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
Also a carpenter, Bob Kretschmer built several houses in his lifetime, including the one he and Ruth raised their family in. It was in that home the couple said they wanted to leave together.
On Friday morning, in that very home, Ruth Kretschmer stopped breathing.
Minutes later, Boston told the Sun-Times a caregiver was holding Bob Kretschmer’s hand while crying when he asked her what wrong.
“She said, 'Ruth’s gone,' and his hand went limp,” Boston told the publication.
The pair were described in their obituary as “truly an adventurous and active couple,” who enjoyed roller skating and traveling around the world.
A visitation was held for the couple Sunday, and services were set for Monday.
They are survived by their children, Ruthann Koenig, Roberta "Bobbi" Boston and R. David Kretschmer along with their eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.