North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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July 31, 2013

After 63 years of marriage, Tarrant husband and wife die in same week

(Continued)

GARDENDALE —

The couple was never apart. If one was hospitalized, the other would stay in the room the entire time.

McDavid said the couple was the rock of the entire family.

“They had a perfect marriage,” she said. “They never fussed in front of us.”

Johnson nodded in agreement, saying her parents always had their heated discussions away from her, even when she was a child.

Gene was a worrier, always requiring his daughter and grandchildren to call him when they left his house and arrived at their destinations.

McDavid said she has many memories of her grandfather taking her and his other grandchildren to the park, and buying them milkshakes after visits to the dentist.

Starting three years ago, the couple lived with their daughter off and on due to failing health. They lived with her full-time for the last year.

Gene had congestive heart failure and diabetes, and had trouble walking after having two knee replacements. Mary suffered from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

They were both eventually placed in hospice care. Their hospital beds were side by side in Johnson’s house.

“Pawpaw would look over every once in a while and say, “Hey! I love you,’” said McDavid.

On July 19, Mary, who was 89, died. Her hospital bed was removed from the room the next day, and that is when Gene “lost it,” said Johnson through tears.

Mary’s viewing and funeral were scheduled for July 23, but a severe storm caused the ceremony to be delayed.

McDavid said she was brushing her grandfather’s hair, when he grabbed it from her and began brushing his own hair.

“He was getting ready to see her,” McDavid said.

Gene, who was 87, died later that day.

The family postponed Mary’s funeral, which was being held at Ridout’s Gardendale Chapel. A double service for the couple was held on Friday.

They were buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Birmingham.

The Jones are survived by Johnson, four grandchildren and one grandchild. Their oldest grandchild, Beverly Ann Self, died in 1998 in a car accident.

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