Harold and Ruth Knapke
Harold and Ruth Knapke died within hours of each other after 65 years of marriage (gregor_y/flickr)

A husband and wife from Ohio have died within hours of each other after 65 years of marriage.

Harold and Ruth Knape died 11 hours apart on the same day at the room they shared at a nursing home in Fort Recovery just a few days before their 66th wedding anniversary.

According to the Dayton Daily News, the couple's children said dying on the same day shows their devotion to one another.

Harold, 91, died just before Ruth, 89, after she fell ill from a severe infection. "We believe he wanted to accompany her out of this life and into the next one, and he did," daughter Margaret Knapke said.

"In recent years, we often speculated that Dad was still here, in this life, because of Mom. It seemed that, even though his health and strength were so very diminished, he couldn't stop being her protector; it seemed he didn't want to leave her behind.

Committed and loyal

"When it became clear that Mom was dying - and Dad understood that - he spent a mostly sleepless night. The next day, Friday, there was a certain calm about him, and he began to fail rapidly."

The couple began their relationship as pen pals while Harold served in the army during WWII, but had known one another since childhood. They married on 20 August, 1947.

Harold had been a teacher, coach and athletic director at Fort Recovery Schools. Together they had seven children, one of whom died in infancy, 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

They had a joint funeral for the couple, with the grandsons carrying Harold, and granddaughters carrying Ruth. The cemetery procession stopped at their family home.

Carol Romie, another of the couple's daughters, said: "They were so committed and loyal and dedicated, they weren't going to go anywhere without the other one."