Columbus, OH,
16:11 PM

10TV: Couple Married 70 Years Dies Minutes Apart, Holding Hands

A Coshocton County couple, married for 70 years, were together until their final minutes.  Dick and Shirley Meek passed away peacefully within minutes of each other from COVID-19 at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, while holding hands as a playlist of their favorite songs played.

They thought they had colds they day after Chrismas.  But on Jan. 8, both were admitted to Riverside Methodist Hospital, positive for the coronavirus.  Sadly, both declined rapidly after exhaustive treatment measures.  Their daughters asked for them to be together in their final moments.  They were moved to a room that was big enough to hold their two beds and medical equipment, where they were able to hold hands with Shirley's head resting on Dick's shoulder.  They died 20 minutes apart.  

"Mom passed first.  The nurse said to Dad, 'Dick, it's okay to let go now.  Shirley's waiting for you,'" said Debbie Meek Howell, one of the couples' daughters, in an interview with 10TV reporter Bryant Somerville. 

“The staff at Riverside moved Heaven and Earth. We are eternally grateful," said Howell. "They treated us as if we were their only patient contacts. Words cannot describe their level of care. I pray that they know they were our saving grace on both floors 4 and 5. We want everyone to know how much they all meant to us. We were so very honored to have them share our parents’ love story. I can’t begin to tell you how many phone calls, conference calls, and updates they provided for us."

To watch their touching story in it's entirety, click on the 10TV logo below.




10TV then followed up with a second story on the couple, focusing this time on the staff that made the family's wishes come true.  Mariah Sowers is a nurse on one of the COVID-19 units at Riverside.  She stayed in touch with the Meeks' five children throughout their time in the hospital.  She was part of the team that worked to move the couple to a shared room for their final moments.  And she creatied a 90 minute Spotify playlist for the couple to listen to as they left this Earth.

“This is exactly how we want our patients to go out of the world,” Sowers told 10TV. “In the arms of the people that they love.”

To view that story, click here