by Corey Hjalseth, KHQ Local News Contributor - email
Photo From NBC
By: Rebecca Ruiz NBC
When Les and Helen Brown became high school sweethearts more than 75
years ago, their parents didn't believe the match would last.
father was a businessman and prosperous landowner in Southern
California. Helen's father worked on the railroad. "Both families were
not too thrilled about the union," their son Les Brown Jr. told
TODAY.com. "The good news is they proved them wrong."
Les and Helen, who were born on the same day in 1918, celebrated 75
years of marriage in September with a quiet gathering over cake. "They
really enjoyed each other's company," Les Jr. said. "They were really
inseparable and were never apart."
That bond was so strong that
neither Les nor Helen wanted to live without each other, though they
knew that the end might be imminent. Les had been sick with Parkinson's
disease for some time, and Helen was battling stomach cancer.
recently slipped into a coma at the couple's Long Beach, Calif., home,
and hospice workers said he might live for just a few more days. Helen,
who was expected to survive for some months, became very weak. She
passed away on July 16. Les died the following day — he never knew about
his wife's death. They were 94 years old.
Les and Helen's love
story, first reported by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, has since gone
viral. Their son Daniel told TODAY.com that his parents wouldn't have
shared the same opinion of the ensuing attention.
notoriety. I don't think she would have enjoyed it," he said. His
father, though, was a photographer and perhaps had an appreciation for a
warmhearted story. "He would have loved it."
Daniel said such
differences are what made his parents so well matched. Helen was very
sweet but particular about how things should be done. Les, on the other
hand, was easygoing, a "man of simple pleasures" who loved coffee and
donuts. Helen kept the family humming along while Les helped her relax
when life became hectic or complicated. "What one lacked, the other made
up for," Daniel said.
The couple loved to travel and often took road trips up the
California coast to San Francisco and Monterey. They doted on their many
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They also shared a deep
religious faith as Jehovah's Witnesses, which helped them weather a
difficult period of their marriage in the 1950s. "They were very
forgiving of each other's foibles and weaknesses. They were so willing
to work at making themselves happy."
Daniel said that their
marriage was a testament to the power of love: "It knows no barriers and
seems to know no bounds. They were from different sides of the tracks
and it didn't seem to matter to them. After 78 years, they were very
much in love."
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