BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (April 30, 2014) — A Benton Harbor couple married nearly 60 years have died just 60 hours apart.
On Saturday, 79-year-old Billy Hunter passed away from cancer. His wife, 76-year-old Betty Hunter died Monday after suffering a brain injury.
The couple was together since they were teens, and have four children.
Married on May 22, 1954, Billy and Betty Hunter, a young couple from Arkansas, decided to make Michigan home.
Jesse Allen met the Hunters in the early 1980’s when they moved into his Benton Harbor neighborhood.
“He was a real close neighbor of mine. I just could not believe it. I read the paper and it said Bill Hunter, 79-years-old,” said longtime friend and neighbor Jesse Allen.
Betty, who worked as a seamstress, helped design the curtains in the Allen’s front window, where they have hung for over 20 years.
The couple’s daughter said that in February, Billy was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. In recent weeks, Billy became weaker as a side effect off his chemotherapy.
A few weeks ago, Betty fell and fractured her back. Doctors then discovered bleeding on her brain.
“My wife was down there with Betty about three weeks ago. She went down to see how she was doing because she told me she wasn’t getting around too good,” said Allen.
Before Betty’s surgery, the couple spoke on the phone for what would be the last time, devoting their love to each other.
The family told Billy on the Saturday before Easter that his wife Betty was being transferred to a local hospice. The next day, feeling weak, Billy was admitted to the hospital where he passed away a week later.
About 60 hours later, Betty also passed away, just a few weeks shy of their 60th wedding anniversary.
Allen, who has also been married for 63 years said that the couple would have wanted to pass away together, instead of living a part.
“I really believe that. They were so close together and he tried to get her anything she wanted,” said Allen.
The Hunter’s daughter also said that her father Billy was a great caretaker for their mother, and that the family likes to believe that he went up to heaven just hours before their mother to make sure everything was ready for her when she arrived.
A memorial service to celebrate Billy and Betty’s lives will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014 at 1 p.m. at First Church of the Nazarene located at 3351 Niles Road in St. Joseph with a time of visitation beginning at noon.