Couple dies within hours apart after 63 years of marriage

JELLICO, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Two East Tennessee brothers are mourning the death of their parents who died within hours of each other.

"They had the perfect love," Charles Thomas said about his parents who were married 63 years before dying Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview with Local 8 News reporter Sarah Jane Anderson, Charles recalled the couple's nostalgic love story.

"She called it 'courtin,' but courting was taking her up and getting ice cream, or a shake or the movies - that was the courting part to them," he explained. "They did that after I was born, after they'd been married for years."

At just 15 years old, his mother Helen, a coal miner's daughter, married Donald Thomas.

”Sixty-three years they were married. I only remember maybe once or twice they had a little spat in my entire life,” he recalled.

However, there was one fight - it was one Helen fought hard. Doctors diagnosed her with cancer two years ago.

Charles' brother Roger said, the family was not surprised to learn their father was diagnosed with the same cancer soon after.

"If she got sick, he got sick," said Roger. "If he had a hard time breathing, she had a hard time breathing. If one was hungry, they both was hungry, but they would get whatever she wanted to eat."

The couple described as "always together" died just that way - together.

"Dad would tell me, 'I can't go till she goes,'" said Charles. "They were wheeling her out, and when they went by him, he turned his head, opened his eyes and died."

The brothers said, they learned to love by seeing their parents - and its carried out through their relationships today.