Couple married for seven decades die 15 hours apart

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee pose for a photo nearly three years before their marriage in February 1944. Photo: AP Photo/Dick Felumlee

A US couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, Ohio, died aged 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee, seated, of Nashport, Ohio., in central Ohio pose for a photo with their eight children. Credit: AP Photo/Dick Felumlee

The couple's eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported.

They remained deeply in love until the very end, even eating breakfast together while holding hands, said their daughter, Linda Cody.

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee near Zanesville about four years before their marriage on September 1940. Credit: AP Photo/Dick Felumlee

"We knew when one went, the other was going to go," she said.

According to Ms Cody, about 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, "Mum's dead." He quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning.

"He was ready," Ms Cody said. "He just didn't want to leave her here by herself."

Son Dick Felumlee said his parents died of old age, surrounded by family.

In this photo from the early 1940s provided by Dick Felumlee, Kenneth and Helen Felumlee of Nashport in central Ohio pose for a photo. Credit: AP Photo/Felumlee Family

The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on February 20, 1944. At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth - who went by Kenny - was too young to marry in Ohio.

Kenneth worked as a railway carriage inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area. She taught Sunday school too, but was known more for her greeting card ministry.

When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.