SPANISH FORK — A couple who lived 63 years together and did everything with each other in mind, died the very same way last week — on the same day.
Jerry and Edith Dunn were born the same year, in 1931, and met in high school. From then on, there was rarely any time spent apart.
"They had such a committment to each other. It was not a real romantic, flowery type of story, but a subtle, sweet kind of story and that's just how they were," daughter Deanna Golden said Monday. She said her father anticipated her mother's every need, in life and at death.
"Devoted" was the word their son, Donald Dunn, called it. A little over a week ago, he said his father had decided he was "throwing in the sponge."
"He told me, 'I just can't do anymore.'"
Their mother's health had also taken a turn for the worse and they recalled their father making a promise to her that he'd never put her in a nursing home. Jerry Dunn made good on that promise, and while he probably could have used the help in the end, the two were able to live out their days together in the small, white wood-sided home where they had raised their family.
The Spanish Fork home served the couple quite nicely for many decades, as they "were perfectly content there" and rarely traveled, Golden said — unless it was for a BYU football game, which Jerry Dunn rarely missed.
It was neatly kept and everything had its place. Among the many trinkets Edith Dunn collected in her 81 years were a dozen clocks, because Jerry Dunn never wanted to be late, recalled Golden.
Seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Utah, visited the home often, sometimes for Grandpa's scrambled eggs and Oreo milkshakes and other times for Grandma's cooking, which was remembered as slightly superior.
Jerry Dunn, a Korea and Vietnam war veteran and former U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, had tidied the house, as he had always done, and his wife, who had diabetes, had been tucked into bed late Wednesday.
He had suffered a fall Tuesday and likely reinjured his back and shoulder. He was physically unable to make it upstairs again, but his children believe he knew the end of his life — and probably their mother's, as well — was near.
"Dad always put everybody else first, but Mom was his top priority," Dunn said. "Everyone thought Mom would be first to die, but I knew Dad would go first because he wouldn't want her to be afraid."
"Mom was afraid of dying. Dad was not," Golden said.
Not before making sure the neighboring widow's garbage would be taken out — and after he added a bit more to his tithing envelope — Jerry Dunn died in his sleep early Thursday. Edith Dunn took her last breath just hours later, before noon.
"She was breathing heavy. It took her a while, but we knew that Dad would get her, and he did," Donald Dunn said.
The two were buried and had a graveside ceremony Friday. Jerry Dunn, a member of the American Legion, was given full military rites and surviving family members kept it simple, just as he had requested.
Golden and her twin brother, who lives just a block away from his parents' home, began sorting through some belongings in the house on Monday. They were elated to find old photographs and other unfinished items, including a knitted baby dress Edith Dunn had worked on.18 comments on this story
Also in the drawer of the nightstand beside the late couple's bed were instruction manuals for appliances in the home. A long-lost military photograph was also there, bringing tears to Golden's eyes as she admired her father for all his service, for his country and for the family.
In addition to stopping the clocks in the house that Jerry Dunn had religiously wound every day, the twins on Monday retired the American flag that had long adorned a pole outside the home.
Symbolically, the flag had flown half-staff since the day the couple had died.
"It's just not the same without Mom and Dad," Golden said. "It was really Mom and Dad that made it a home."
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