Husband and wife of 73 years die within hours of each other; both tested positive for COVID-19

A husband and wife of 73 years who both tested positive for the coronavirus died within hours of each other at a Milwaukee hospital, where staff had moved their beds together in their final days so they could hold hands. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Wilford and Mary Kepler spent their final moments together just feet apart at Froedtert Hospital. They died April 18. Wilford Kepler, 94, died first. Mary Kepler, 92, died six hours later.

Although both tested positive for the coronavirus, Mary Kepler was the only one to die from it, according to the medical examiner.

Wilford Kepler’s cause of death was listed as a traumatic head injury after he fell on April 12. Mary Kepler had already tested positive for the coronavirus on April 8 and was in quarantine at home. But after her husband’s fall, they both went to the hospital, where he also tested positive for COVID-19.

The Wauwatosa couple both attended the Richland Center High School in Richland Center, but Wilford was drafted to serve in the Pacific in World War II before his class graduated in 1943. The young couple corresponded while he was away and married on his return in 1946.

In their final days together, they were able to communicate with their family via phone and video calls.

“They were aware of what was going on, and they were at peace with it,” their granddaughter, Natalie Lameka, said.

This November 17, 2014, photo provided by Michael Kepler shows Wilford and Mary Kepler at their home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. The Keplers died within hours of each other on April 18. Both had tested positive for COVID-19 and the medical examiner says Mary Kepler, 92, died of the disease, while Wilford Kepler, 94, died from a traumatic head injury after a fall on April 12.

Kepler Family Handout via AP

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