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Illinois couple married for 71 years die hours apart

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ROCKFORD, Ill. » A man and wife who were married for more than seven decades died hours apart this week at a hospice in northern Illinois.

Family members say Robert and Nora Viands were always together during their 71 years of marriage. Their son calls their deaths — 16 hours apart at a Rockford retirement center— a "blessing" because each would have been heartbroken without the other.

The Rockford Register Star reports that 92-year-old Robert Viands died around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Nora Viands died at 4:45 p.m. She was hospitalized with pneumonia in December.

The Viands’ children decided to put their parents in the same room at the hospice for their final hours.

A joint funeral will be held Sunday.

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