Couple married 69 years dies four days apart: 'They couldn’t survive without each other'

Couple married 69 years dies four days apart: 'They couldn’t survive without each other'
For several days Harvey and Judy were down the hall from each other in the hospital. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)
For several days Harvey and Judy were down the hall from each other in the hospital. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)
Judy and Harvey Hatchfield die four days apart after 69 years of marriage. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)
Judy and Harvey Hatchfield die four days apart after 69 years of marriage. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)
Judy and Harvey Hatchfield on the night of their wedding in 1948. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)
Judy and Harvey Hatchfield on the night of their wedding in 1948. (Source: Pam Hatchfield)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Harvey and Judy Hatchfield shared a love most people only dream of.

At 94 and 92, they were rarely apart, except for two years Harvey was deployed overseas during World War II before they married.

"She was the light in his eyes and he would do anything for her," said Pam Hatchfield, Harvey and Judy's daughter. "My mother said she knew from the first second she saw him that that was the man she was going to marry."

Harvey, who had just graduated from medical school, was deployed as an Army doctor to the Philippines and Japan in 1946.  Every day, Harvey and Judy wrote each other. In their two years apart, they wrote more than 700 love letters.

The night before they married, Harvey wrote one final letter:

19 March, 1948

Harvey led a life of service to not only Judy, their three children, and the country, but to his practice. For 30 years, Harvey was director of anesthesiology at a hospital in New Jersey, with Judy always by his side.

"She lived her life in service to him and it's really been quite an amazing experience to see that in action," Pam Hatchfield explained.

It was a devotion that never faltered, even as the aches and pains of old age crept in.

"He knew he wasn't well when he stopped liking the taste of his evening martini," Pam said.

In March, Pam said her father noticed a lump in his lymph node, which was later diagnosed as cancer.

On March 28 -- Judy's birthday -- Harvey was rushed to the hospital after he passed out in a store buying Judy's presents. This time, doctors said he had pneumonia.

But it wasn't long before Judy also found herself in the hospital.

"Mom had also figured out a way to get herself in the hospital a day after he got in," Pam said. "And for a few days, they were down the hall from each other and actually got to visit each other in the hospital which was very sweet."

Sadly, those visits were short-lived.

On April 10, Harvey passed away after a brief illness in Hospice care. Judy, who was at the hospital during this time, wasn't aware he died. Her family didn't have the heart to tell Judy her beloved husband was gone.

"I wasn't going to tell her that he wasn't here anymore," Pam said.

But deep down, Pam knew her mother was aware of his death.

"We all asked her, 'Are you in pain?' and she said, 'Yes," and we said, 'Where are you hurting?' and she said, 'My heart. My heart is breaking.'"

Four days later, Judy passed away peacefully.

"I think they were symbiotic after all these years," Pam explained. "They were so closely hooked into one another on a very deep level that they just couldn't survive without each other. I think for a lot of people, life gets in the way, and I think it didn't really get in the way for them."

After Harvey's retirement, the couple lived in St. James in Brunswick County for more than a decade. A few years ago, they moved to Cambridge Village in Wilmington, where they were founding members.

Harvey and Judy requested to not have a service after they died.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.