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Couple dies 16 hours apart after 76-year marriage

Published March 25, 2012 1:04 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Idaho Falls, Idaho • An Idaho couple married 76 years died 16 hours apart at a retirement center.

Ninety-five-year-old Cleda Leavitt Blair died at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Her husband, 94-year-old Rosemond "Frell" Blair, died at 4:30 p.m. later that day.

The Post Register reports that the couple died at the Fairwinds-Sand Creek Retirement Community in Idaho Falls in southeastern Idaho where they had been living for seven months.

"They were together constantly," said the couple's son, 68-year-old Boyd Blair. "They were inseparable in life and I guess also inseparable in a better place. The key things I remember about my parents were not the things they taught us, but the example they set for us. We just watched and marveled."

The couple grew up in Lewiston, Utah, married shortly after high school and later moved to Nyssa, Ore., to raise a family. After retiring they spent winters at their home in Arizona. They moved to Idaho Falls three years ago to be with family.

Frell Blair was a mechanic and served as a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cleda Blair took part in the church's women's organizations.

"They were always flirting with each other and were so cute," said Boyd Blair's wife, Marilyn. "They were the perfect example of family and what eternal love is. They're the epitome of what you think a couple should be."

Health woes beset the couple near the end of their lives, and Cleda Blair battled breast cancer for years, as well as the side effects of treatments.

"(Frell Blair) was so tender and sweet to her because we never knew how long she would live," Boyd Blair said.

But Frell Blair also became ill with advancing age, and Cleda Blair took care of him despite concerns among retirement center staff that she was doing too much.

But it was Cleda who died first, and Boyd Blair said his father took his wife's hand and wept uncontrollably when he realized she was near death.

"They were definitely each other's best friend and partner," said the retirement community's general manager, Kelly Martin. "And one just could not be in life without the other."

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Information from: Post Register, http://www.postregister.com