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Fort Worth Couple Married 53 Years Dies Of Coronavirus Less Than An Hour Apart, Holding Hands

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Curtis and Betty Tarpley were high school sweethearts married for 53 years.

They were both diagnosed earlier this month with coronavirus.

It started with 80-year-old Betty.

Curtis and Betty Tarpley
Curtis and Betty Tarpley (credit: Tim Tarpley)

"My parents are just normal people, but now the whole world knows their story," said their son Tim Tarpley.

It's a love story that has been shared across the country.

One that Tarpley says wouldn't have been possible without the nurses and doctors at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.

When his mother was admitted after feeling fatigued and receiving a positive COVID -19test, it didn't take long for his father to follow.

However, she declined faster.

"My mom called me and said, 'Hey, I just want to let you know, I'm ready to go…' I yelled and screamed, and thought maybe if I talked to her I could inspire her to have one last bit of will to live."

Then, he called his dad who had also tested positive. He was on a separate floor of the hospital.

"He said 'how's your mom?' I said 'Not good. She may not make it past tomorrow,' and it was like, at that moment knowing that my mom was going to go, it was okay for him to go."

Tim Tarpley
Tim Tarpley (CBS 11)

Tarpley said it was the nurses he never even met that made their last moments together as a family so special.

"It was some doctor or nurse named Blake… that's all we knew about it him. He really went out of his way to get my mom moved from her room to his room. And then they just placed their hands, near each other, and next thing we know they grabbed each other's hands. And that's how they went."

It was a gesture Tarpley said he could never thank them enough for, especially since they deal with death all day long.

"There's still so many, you know, unseen heroes that like to help facilitate their ending," he said.

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