Friends and family gathered Friday for a memorial service honoring a southwest Minnesota couple whose enduring commitment to one another lasted right up to the very end. The timing of their passing is almost as touching as their long life together.
John and Bernita Shurr of Ellsworth, Minnesota, were married for 73 years. Their son tells us the Shurrs were private people who would have been uncomfortable being the center of attention. But theirs is a love story that needs to be shared.
A grieving community says goodbye to a couple who took their vow of 'til death do us part,' seriously.
"I think they knew the end was near and it was just a matter of when, not if," George Shurr said.
Lifelong Ellsworth, Minnesota, farmer John Shurr died on January 14.
"With him, it maybe was just his time to go," Shurr said.
Bernita, struggling with dementia, followed him just eight days later, on January 22.
"She was a lot more intentional about it. He wasn't going to be here, so she wasn't going to be here," Shurr said.
It's not unusual for couples married a long time to pass away months, or even days, apart. But the Shurr family is convinced that something more than mere coincidence was at work in the case of John and Bernita.
"They had made their peace, I think," Shurr said.
The family did the math. John and Bernita had lived exactly the same length of time; 95-years, 9-months and 28 days.
"We were always very conscious of the fact that they were exactly eight days apart. Their birthdays were always exactly eight days apart. And there were times when John would tease Bernita about the fact that, 'Well, I am older than you are.' Well, I guess she caught up and I guess they stayed," daughter-in-law Margaret Shurr said.
The Shurrs were a loving couple who shared a long, happy life together, and an impeccable sense of timing.
George Shurr says most of his life, he always thought about his parents as separate people. But later, he came to appreciate more the loving bond they shared together.
KELOLAND's Doug Lund wrote a blog about the couple. Read that on Lund at Large.