Leap for love: At 93, Jack Hake fulfills vow to late wife with skydive for charity

WIMBORNE, England - A 93-year-old British man fulfilled a death bed promise to his late wife by parachuting out of a plane to raise money for new equipment for the medics who took care of his beloved for years.

Last weekend, Jack Hake took the nearly two-mile-high plunge, strapped to a skydive instructor, while carrying a sealed bag of his wife's ashes inside his jumpsuit.

"We did everything together. I loved her because of that," Jack told CBS News. "I had to bring her with me."

Jack and Victoria "Smudge" Hake were married about 70 years. During the last two decades, a debilitating nerve disease slowly claimed Smudge's life. Before she died in August, Jack said she told him she had one regret: she didn't repay the nurses and her doctor's office for their years of medical attention and comfort. They used to regularly visit Jack and Smudge at their home.

Being of humble means, the couple wanted to be practical in their repayment.

"All the money will go toward buying new equipment and supplies, not for a holiday," the feisty retiree told us.

Nurse Karen Morris-Marks cared for Smudge and Jack from the time they moved into their modest bungalow in southern England 20 years ago until Morris-Marks retired in 2011. CBS News was there for Morris-Mark's reunion with Jack -- seeing him for the first time since Smudge died.

She said she wasn't surprised Jack would do the jump, out of love.

"They looked as though they were made for each other, like soul mates," said the former nurse, recalling her first meeting with the Hakes.

"I think he appreciates that care she's had... not only (our) caring for them, but also getting to know them as people," she said.

On the morning of Nov. 10, Morris-Marks and a plainclothes registered nurse helped Jack -- who walks with two canes -- make his way across the airfield to the plane. Supporters who pledged money to Jack's charity skydive through his Facebook page cheered him on.

Jack's physician, who had to sign a medical waiver allowing the triple bypass heart surgery survivor to jump, was on-site, too.

"When I was watching the sky dive introduction, I did worry about him putting his legs down (at landing), or doing something -- a few broken bones is not good at his age," said Dr. John Tan.

It's wasn't just the widower's brittle bones that had some worried. Jack is also partially blind and partially deaf. He joked that he couldn't hear a thing during his skydive orientation, but he said he wasn't afraid to jump at 10,000 feet.

"Whether the parachute opens or not, that is in the hands of He, above," Jack said.

The jump went without a snag. The parachute opened. Professional skydivers waiting on the ground swept up Jack's legs as he and his tandem skydive instructor landed, ensuring a pillow soft return to Earth.

"I hope people will dig deep and give," Jack said after the jump, "I would do it again if those who are ill benefit from it."

Jack handled the 30-second free-fall, followed by about seven minutes of canopy floating to the ground, with grace. The bumpy, wet mud-path vehicle ride back from the landing zone, however, made him nauseous.

After a quick medical check, Dr. Tan cleared Jack to take in his hero's welcome from about 100 supporters at the airfield hanger.

"Jack is a truly special man. His dive was lovely. What he's done for his wife makes me cry," said one woman.

"If you can do that sort of thing at 93, well - the sky is your limit," chuckled another one of Jack's fans.Jack said he didn't see "what all the fuss is about."

He said he's ready to do another fundraiser for his wife's caretakers in 2014: a thrill ride, strapped atop a propeller airplane.

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