True love, true story. Life imitates fiction or in this case, Nicholas Sparks’ film adaptation of his bestseller The Notebook. A real-life married couple of 62 years died within hours of each other last week. And the stranger fact? They were holding hands.
In an article published in the Us Weekly magazine website, a radio station first published Don and Maxine Simpson’s touching story. The tale behind their deaths — and lives – has now gone viral after their passing. According to the station, the couple first met in a bowling alley over six decades ago. He was a civil engineer originally from North Dakota; his wife Maxine was raised in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was eventually relocated for his job.
The pair got married soon after their first meeting, travelled the world together, and adopted two boys while abroad. During their marriage of over six decades, the Simpsons became actively involved with the local community in organizations like the Rotary Club, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the YMCA. Don even co-founded the Bakersfield Racket Club.
Last month, Don was at home when he broke his hip after a fall. At the same time, Maxine’s cancer, which she had battled for years, had also progressed. The twosome’s family knew they had to keep them together.
Don’s granddaughter Melissa Sloan had moved her grandparents into a spare bedroom in her home. Their beds were side-by-side.
Sloan also recalled the exact moments when each grandparent passed away — within four hours of each other. “I could hear on the monitor, she took her last breath and I came to check,” Sloan recalled of her grandmother Melissa, who reportedly gripped her husband’s hand in the last moments of her life. “She had passed.”
After health aides rolled Maxine’s body out of the bedroom, her husband Don passed away several hours later. (In the closing scene of Nicholas Sparks’ beloved film adaptation of The Notebook, longtime couple Allie and Noah, played by Gena Rowlands and the late James Garner, pass away within hours of each other while cuddling together on the same hospital bed.)