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They Survived WW2 And Just Proved That Not Even "Death Could Do Them Part"

Laurie Staver Clinton

A couple who both served in the Second World War took the saying "love never dies" to heart, when they passed away within hours of each other.

Isabell and Preble Staver first met on a blind date, but had to put their romance on hold when World War II broke out. Isabell served as a nurse for the Navy and Preble was a Marine, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his tenure.

Five months after the war ended, Isabell and Preble wed on February 15, 1946, which led to over seven decades of marriage.

Isabell and Preble Staver
Laurie Staver Clinton

"They were great people. Mom really taught me that you can’t change another person but you can change your attitude towards them. Dad was a bit of a prickly pear!" the couple's daughter, Laurie Staver Clinton told PEOPLE. "Dad was the strict one. Mom tried to be strict, but we knew what we could get away with her. It was pretty much a father rules the roost sort of thing."

The family moved from city to city for Preble's work as a lobbyist and banker, while Isabell stayed at home to raise the pair's five children. She would eventually return to the workforce as a nurse.

Preble Staver identity card
Laurie Staver Clinton

However, tragedy struck when the parents suffered the loss of one of their sons, Peter, who died in 1975 during the last football game of his senior year.

"Something like that can either tear a couple apart, but they made a pact to get through it together. They really were each other’s support team," Staver Clinton said.

Isabell and Preble Staver
Laurie Staver Clinton

The couple would face further heartbreak when Isabell was diagnosed with dementia.

As the devastating disease took its toll on Isabell, the couple's children decided in 2013 to move their parents into a long-term care facility in Norfolk, Virginia.

When Preble began to struggle with his wife's condition, he was eventually moved into a separate room in the same building, but it wouldn't deter Isabell from believing her husband's love for her.

"When I would explain the need for the separation, Mom would go, 'But that's Daddy, that's Preble,'" Staver Clinton told NPR. "Even in her demented state, she had that compassion and understanding that my dad's reaction to some of the disease process wasn't really a reaction to her, and she still wanted to be with him."

"Sometimes he was a little frustrated because she may not recognize him. But ... when she did, you could always just see him - just smiling, like crazy," the couple's friend, Jim Need added.

Isabell and Preble Staver
Laurie Staver Clinton

Months before Preble's 96th birthday, he told the nursing staff all he wished for was to take a nap beside his wife. With their help, The pair were able to sleep together side-by-side for nearly three hours, something the couple hadn't done since they moved into separate rooms.

"It was the, really, the catalyst of them being able to let go, I believe," Staver Clinton said.

Isabell and Preble Staver
Laurie Staver Clinton

On Oct. 25, Preble rushed to Isabell's bedside for what would be her final moments.

"He held her hand, and it was just so tender. I asked him if he wanted to stay after the prayers, and he shook his head," Staver Clinton said. "I said, ‘Okay, but you know that means you’re going to have to let go of her hand?' I was crying, and he was crying."

Preble would pass away 14 hours later, a situation Need said wasn't by chance.

"I honestly feel he was waiting for her ... [the] Marine mentality," Need said. "He was going to take care of her until he knew she was OK."

Isabell and Preble Staver
Laurie Staver Clinton

Isabell and Preble had a joint funeral held on Nov. 10 - the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps - in Virginia Beach, with a Marine honor guard in attendance.

When speaking of her parent's decades-long marriage, Shaver Clinton said they always persevered through hardship, which made their relationship stronger until the very end.

"Mom and dad really lived out that, if you make a commitment, and even though life gets rough or life gets in the way, you work through life," she said. "and you live your life together."

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