California couple married 67 years dies side-by-side, holding hands

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FRESNO, Calif. -- In the early 1940s, Floyd Hartwig was a World War II sailor fighting in the Pacific. For six years, he and his sweetheart Violet kept in touch across the seas by mail.

"There are 130 letters," Donna Scharton said. "The first one was in 1946 when they started writing."

Scharton is their oldest daughter. She showed pages and pages they scribbled with devotion.

"Need your arms around me darling, hope it will be soon honey. All my love darling, and take care of yourself, love you, love you and shall always love you honey for as long as I live," Scharton read.

The Hartwigs got married in 1947. He called her Vi, worked at a feed company and delivered eggs.

She called him Blondie. And together for 67 years, they raised a family.

"They were very supportive parents," Scharton said.

At 90, Floyd suffered kidney failure. And at 89, Violet fought dementia. But they never forgot about their love for one another.

"My dad was using his cane and short of breathe, but he kept helping her, wanting to help her," Scharton said.

Scharton described Feb. 11. That's the day family members knew the elderly couple wouldn't get any better, but instead would remain devoted to one another until they died.

"When we could see it was really getting close, we pushed their hospital beds together and moved them over so they could hold hands and my dad died holding my mom's hand and my mom died five hours later. ... They were meant to go together," Scharton said.

Losing two people he adores had been heartbreaking for 16-year-old Jake Curtis.

"I think about them everyday," the great-grandson said.

He has heard people describe his great grandparents as the couple from the movie "The Notebook," but their story he says is sweeter because they truly lived their life dedicated to one another.

"It's a lot better, like 'The Notebook' but a lot more interesting," he said.

Added Scharton: "At the funeral home there were two caskets, and my brother and I were standing together and we said it was meant to be. That's the way they were meant to go, together."