New Brunswick

Grand Manan couple married for 69 years die hours apart

Weldon Ingalls, 100, and Jean Ingalls, 94, passed away within hours of each other on April 16, eight months shy of their 70th wedding anniversary

'A lot of people call them the lovebirds just because they had that sweet relationship.'

Jean and Weldon Ingalls died within hours of each other. They were eight months shy of their 70th wedding anniverary (Patricia Brown)

A Grand Manan couple's classic love story has come to an end in a manner befitting their lifelong commitment to each other.

Weldon Ingalls, 100, and Jean Ingalls, 94, passed away within hours of each other on April 16, eight months shy of their 70th wedding anniversary.

Jean was diagnosed with cancer last October, and Weldon had been consistently by her side as the disease progressed, peeking into her room to see if she needed anything, or sitting in the chair next to her bed to be near.

A wedding photo of Jean and Weldon in 1946. (Patricia Brown)
A few weeks ago, Weldon was diagnosed with a more aggressive form of cancer, and his health declined rapidly. He died at Grand Manan Nursing Home, and then shortly afterward, Jean died as well.

Patricia Brown, one of the couple's nieces, believes that the closeness of their deaths was no coincidence.

"I think she had held on that long for him, because she was very protective of him," she said. "Once he was gone, their daughter said [Jean] was finding it very difficult breathing, and her daughter said, 'it's okay, mom, you can go'. We felt that she knew that she wasn't needed here anymore."

'She saved him'

Weldon Ingalls was born in Seal Cove, Grand Manan. He spent his early years working in a number of different fields, including lighthouse keeping and forestry, before enlisting in the army and serving in the 86th Bridge Company.

Jean was born in in Saint John, and was working as a registered nurse when Weldon came back from the war and moved to the same city. They were introduced through Weldon's cousin, who was also working as an RN.

They were married soon afterward, on Dec. 10, 1946.

'I think she had held on that long for him, because she was very protective of him.- Patricia Brown, niece

The war was difficult for Weldon, but it was something he didn't open up about to his family until his later years. It was only a few years ago when the couple's oldest granddaughter, Tavie Dakin-Ingersoll, learned the role that Jean had played in his healing.

"Not too long ago, he told me how bad shape he was in when he came back," Dakin-Ingersoll said. "He told me that my grandmother saved him, and that if it hadn't been for her, he didn't know if he would have made it."

Building a life together

After their marriage, the couple returned to Grand Manan and started to raise a family. Jean became a homemaker, and Weldon worked for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

They had two children, and later on added five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren to their family.

After their retirement, Weldon took up painting and Jean continued her needlework, knitting afghans and blankets for her many family members.

They could often be seen together in their den, with a window overlooking the Bay of Fundy watching the fishing boats, either on the couch holding hands or in separate chairs.

Jean as a registered nurse in the 1940s. (Patricia Brown)
"It's always been a special relationship, it seemed to us," Brown said. "They're different in lots of ways: my uncle was kind of a quiet-spoken man, and my aunt was a strong woman, but they both did their own thing and yet were so close all of their lives."

"A lot of people call them the lovebirds just because they had that sweet relationship."

Dakin-Ingersoll remembers her grandparents in that same way.

"You always knew my grandfather was coming because he was whistling, you could hear him walking down the street and knew that he was on his way." she said.

"My grandmother was a quieter presence, but always smiling at my grandfather's stories, and very caring. She was watchful of us grandchildren and made sure we knew our manners and respected others."