After 68 years of marriage, Fargo couple dies days apart


The lives of Carl and Evelyn Ekern ended the way she suspected they would – with the two of them together.

After nearly 70 years of marriage, the two died just days apart, she on April 13, he on April 19.

It didn't surprise the family. The Ekerns' three children told WDAY that it's what their mother had expected all along.

“They seemed to know, mom always said she wanted to pass before dad," Laura Lougheed, the Ekern's daughter, told WDAY.

Carl Ekern, a Naval officer from Fargo, North Dakota, and Evelyn Ekern, originally from North Carolina, met in 1945 while attending different colleges in North Carolina, according to the couple's obituary. During World War II, Carl was stationed in the South Pacific and when he returned to the United States he was stationed in Louisiana, where he married Evelyn on April 2, 1946.

They found random people to stand in as witnesses at their wedding.

“They had no idea who their witnesses were, dad, one of his commanding officers stood up, and then they grabbed random people because it was after the war," Laura Lougheed, the Ekern's daughter, told WDAY.

Upon Carl Ekern's discharge from the Navy, they moved to Fargo, where they raised a family.

Carl Ekern retired as vice president of Mid-America Steel in 1985. He was an avid golfer, reaching the North Dakota Senior Golf Tournament four times, his obituary says. Evelyn was also an avid golfer and the two traveled the world playing the game, WDAY notes.

Their love endured to the very end. Carl Ekern, who had battled Alzheimer's, stopped eating an hour after Evelyn Ekern was taken to a Fargo hospital on April 9, WDAY says. Evelyn died four days later. An hour after Evelyn Ekern died, her children got a phone call that Carl Ekern had entered hospice care.

A funeral for the couple is scheduled for this Friday.

It's not uncommon for a person to die within the same year of their partner's death – and it may be no coincidence, according to a 2006 article published in the Gainesville Times. One of the main reasons for this is heartbreak, or psychological stress, that's caused by losing a loved one, experts told the newspaper.

This "bereavement effect" has been evident in recent headlines. Around the same time of Evelyn Ekern's death, Helen Felumlee, of Ohio, died. Just 15 hours later, Kenneth Felumlee, her husband of 70 years, died, TIME Magazine says.

Last year, a Minnesota couple died on the same day. Clifford and Eva Vevea had been married for 65 years.

In February, a New York couple died hours apart holding hands. Ed and Floreen Hale were together for 60-plus years.

And last November, Frank and Eleanor Turner, of North Carolina, died six hours apart. They had been married for nearly 65 years.

Next Up

Kenta Maeda

Twins pull Maeda early, White Sox pummel bullpen

Jose Abreu's two-run homer gave the White Sox a 9-3 victory.

boys volleyball

Girls wrestling sanctioned as MSHSL activity; boys volleyball 2 votes shy

There will be section and state tournaments for girls-only wrestling next school year.

P.J. Fleck

Gopher players defend PJ Fleck after WCCO-TV report

"The public has made our statement," a U of M spokesperson said.

vaccine, covid

Twin Cities police investigating COVID vaccine thefts in viral videos

Videos of both incidents were recorded and shared online.

Guthrie theater

Guthrie to reopen to the public in July, shows resume this fall

The theater has been closed to the public for more than a year.

Target - good and gather plant based

Target is launching more than 30 new plant-based grocery products

All are part of the company's hit Good & Gather brand.

Roller Garden

Roller Garden to auction off skates, signs, arcade games and more

Many items from the beloved Roller Garden will be up for auction next month.

joseph ness booking photo

Charges: Chanhassen man fired hundreds of rounds, killing his sister

Six rifles, including AR-15 and AK-47 variants, were found inside the home.

police lights

Woman robbed and assaulted at gunpoint in Waite Park, police say

The incident occurred on Sunday at around 11:30 p.m.

pixabay - marijuana cannabis

Marijuana legalization: Minnesota House to vote Thursday

The "historic" vote on the House floor is set for Thursday afternoon.


After 64 years of marriage, they died one day apart

The Detroit Lakes couple will be buried together on Tuesday.