Real life “The Notebook” couple: Devoted husband and wife die within minutes of each other after 65 years of wedded bliss because they couldn’t be separated
An inseparable couple married for 65 years died within just minutes of each other as they couldn’t bear to be without each other.
In a heart-wrenching echo of the Ryan Gosling film about a devoted couple, Harry Stevenson, 88, died moments after care home staff informed him of his 89-year-old wife Mavis’ death.
The devoted couple from Derby had refused to be separated throughout their life and when Mavis’ health deteriorated, Harry moved into a care home as well to be with her.
Their nephew Stephen Creswell, 63, from Belper, said: “Their love lasted and they were devoted to each other. I can imagine them being together now, after their death, side by side.
“I know they just couldn’t bear to be separated.”
Harry and Mavis spent their final months at St Werburgh’s House Car Home where Harry wanted to move in with Mavis because they could not bear living apart.
Despite Harry’s frailty he was in better health than his wife and his relatives were not expecting his death.
But Stephen explained that, despite the shock and the sadness of their deaths, he can’t think of a more fitting way for their life together to have come to an end.
He said: “They had been in their room at the home at 10.50am when Mavis passed away on Monday, November 3.
“The nurses told Harry in the most gentle way that she had died. The nurses said he shed a few tears and it was nothing dramatic.
“Then they went outside and returned to find Harry had died. It was just a few minutes later and was so special.”
After meeting at a social club aged just 16, the teenage sweethearts began courting just before Harry signed up to fight in the Second World War on his 17th birthday in 1943.
He became a Royal Marine Commando and despite playing a role in the D-Day Normandy landings, and later being transferred to the Far East to fight the Japanese, Harry wrote to Mavis throughout the war even after he was shot in the hand.
They married soon after he returned from the war and Harry went back to work for British Celanese as a joiner where he worked for 50 years.
He even managed to continue as a talented wood worker after his hand was amputated due to lasting damage from his war injuries.
When he retired Harry became a cricket groundsman and umpire and as a keen runner ran half-marathons into his 60s.
Stephen believes their bond was so strong after they were separated during the war and as result refused to be apart ever again.
Although the couple never had children they loved their large family and were renowned for their Boxing Day lunches and travelling the world on cruises in the 1950s and 60s.
They’re enduring love was so strong Harry insisted he visit Mavis every day when she was in hospital earlier this year.
Stephen said: “He would come on his own in the dark, he was devoted to her.
“I had seen them the day before and I knew Mavis had less time than Harry. Harry was still quite medically strong so when he died I was quite shocked.
“They would not have wanted to live without each other, so I think it was the perfect ending.
“Although it is incredibly sad it is also incredibly wonderful that right until the very end they were together and neither of them had to be alone.
“It’s completely unprecedented and very fitting. They had such a close bond and their romance was huge. It was the greatest bond you could imagine.
“They were as close as any couple I have known. They never had a serious argument and they were soulmates.
“I would imagine after she died he would be thinking about how much he would miss her.
“Mavis had been frail and housebound for the last five years so Harry started to take control and would do all of the cleaning, cooking and washing.
“It was lovely because it was a complete role-reversal. It was quite hard for him being with her but he was determined to stay with her in the same house.
“But, Mavis got worse and she had to go into a home. We had to find a home where Harry could stay as well because they wanted to be together. There was no way of separating them.
“While I was clearing their things I found all his letters to Mavis from the warand it was quite clear from these letters that they adored each other.
“They lived for each other. Mavis would have gone through a lot of panic and worry in the war not knowing if he was safe.
“Their romance and their love kept them together during those years. When there is absence, then the heart grows stronger.
“He was a fantastic joiner and, although he had a reconstructed hand, he was brilliant. He could do more than most people could with two hands.”
Grace Matebele, manager at St Werburgh’s House, said it was a special ending for the couple, who shared a bedroom together.
She said: “Harry would always ask for a blanket for her and wanted to make sure she was looked after.
“It was a sad ending but also happy. The staff said he had a tear in his eye. They would hold hands and had real, genuine love.”