KOKOMO, Ind. — After 63 years of marriage, a Kokomo couple passed away of natural causes Friday within minutes of each other after praying God would allow them to die together.
The couple said they didn’t want to live without each other after months of suffering from deteriorating health.
Funeral services for Earle Howard, 86, and Lou Nell Howard, 82, were held Tuesday at First Church of the Nazarene, where a crowd gathered to commemorate the couple and hear what Pastor David Leeder described as “one of the greatest love stories of our time.”
Earle and Lou Nell married in Kokomo on July 11, 1949. Earle served in the Army during World War II and eventually became the Kokomo Police Chief. He was elected twice as Howard County Sheriff, and served as a state representative from 1986 to 1994.
Leeder said throughout their entire marriage, Earle and Lou Nell demonstrated a devotion to each other that he’s rarely seen in other couples. Leeder serves as senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene, where the Howard’s attended for years.
“There was no doubt that Earle Howard loved his wife with a passion, and Lou Nell absolutely adored Earle,” he said. “To see one without the other, it just seemed like they weren’t quite complete.”
“They were the most elegant couple I have ever known,” he continued. “They were always pristinely turned out for church, always with smiles on their faces, and always giving words of appreciation and encouragement.”
Even in their old age, Leeder said they constantly expressed their love for each other.
“In the last months, it was just holding hands, warm smiles, and words of kindness,” he said.
However, Leeder said the couple’s health rapidly deteriorated over the last year. Lou Nell had been diagnosed with dementia, and Earle suffered from a serious heart condition.