Service held for couple who died hours apart after 74 years together

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) A memorial service Friday celebrated the lives of an ordinary Central Texas man and his wife whose extraordinary love story spread around the world after they died hours apart after 74 years together.

Hazel and Leonard Cherry died just hours apart. (Family photos)

Leonard Cherry, 95 and his wife Hazel, 93, were high school sweethearts who married in January 1942 in Muldoon.

Hazel Cherry, who had been in good health died shortly before 1 p.m. on Oct. 27 at a local hospital.

Leonard Cherry died 10 hours later, at around 11 p.m., just a few days after he was placed in hospice at the St. Catherine Center in Waco.

Their story quickly went viral as it was picked up by CNN and Time and People magazines.

By Thursday it had spread to Europe.

"I hope it's an inspiration to people,” said the couple’s only son, David Cherry, 72, a retired Waco attorney.

“It's sort of a feel-good story and we need that now with all that's going on in our political storm in this country and the events around the world."

The Cherry’s two grandchildren, Lisa Pittard and Craig Cherry agreed.

"In a world filled with cynicism and so many frightening things as terrorism and everything else that is bad in the world it's refreshing to see a story about two people who love each other and love so many other people for such a long period of time", Craig Cherry said.

"We were able to be with them for so many years they watched us grow up and just seeing their story told and going national international it's just a beautiful thing,” his sister said.

Leonard Cherry was born in 1921 in Humble and his future wife was born a little more than two years later in Fayette County.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the start of World War II and became a B-24 bomber pilot.

He was stationed at Carswell Army Air Corps Base in Fort Worth where he trained others to fly the plane.

After the war he went to work as an auto body repairman in Fort Worth and in 1949 opened his own auto repair business, which he and his wife operated until 1980.

After selling the business, the couple moved to Woodway to be close to their son and grandchildren.