They met in second grade and were married nearly 70 years when they died Tuesday within five hours of each other, both of COVID-19 complications.
Dan Foland and his wife Marjorie were 90 and now were residing in the Ohio Living Quaker Heights Care Community in Waynesville, after living almost all their married life on a State Route 134 South farm in Clinton County.
As to their primary-grades introduction to one another, their daughter Susan Ertel said, “My mom just thought my dad was just the cutest boy in her class.” There’s an intermission to this otherwise lifelong love story when Marjorie’s family, which relocated frequently because her father was a salesman, moved to Michigan.
Marjorie was heart sick about having to move away, but the family got to come back to Wilmington when she and Dan were sixth-graders, and before long they were boyfriend and girlfriend and they’ve been like that ever since, said Ertel.
She added, “They did everything together, even in death.”
After the two got sick with COVID, the family would receive updates from nurses and learned that Marjorie was doing worse than Dan. Family members were surprised one day to find out Marjorie was still alive, and a nurse told them she thought their mother was waiting on their father to pass.
The two were in the same room, side-by-side facing each other so that they could see each other while they were so, so sick at the end, Ertel said.
The family wants those hearing about this to understand that their father led his life at a slower pace than some folks, certainly slower than Marjorie who sometimes would tell him to hurry up but “you just couldn’t hurry the man,” said Ertel, their oldest daughter.
Well, he passed first, and the family figures, with some gentle humor, that it was the first time in his life he beat her in anything and was first.
And Ertel thinks the nurse was oh so right about Marjorie waiting for him to pass first.
They were married Feb. 2, 1951 at the First Baptist Church in Wilmington prior to Dan heading off to Korea to serve as an Army sergeant during the Korean Conflict.
In the earlier years of their marriage, he farmed the 100-acre farm himself, rotating out corn and soybeans. Later he would lease the land to other farmers and he would work for decades as a supervisor at the Irwin Auger Bit Co. factory in Wilmington.
Dan and Marjorie both attended Wilmington College and she became a school teacher, starting out at Martinsville where she was a reading instructor before teaching second grade at Denver Place Elementary School.
Family members point out that both Marjorie and Dan were educators, as Dan dedicated many years leading Boy Scout Troop 44 as scoutmaster.
“He just loved working with the boys and teaching them skills,” said Nancy McKay, the second daughter of the couple.
Melissa Noble, a granddaughter, said her grandmother was a phenomenal cook and had an outgoing personality. In contrast the family describes Dan as comparatively quiet and soft-spoken.
Nevertheless, Noble recalled he would come up to you and tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘So, I’ve got a joke for you’. And, with his combination of dry humor and the laugh he had, Noble said it didn’t matter whether you got the joke or not, you still laughed with him.
She added her grandmother and grandfather both enjoyed life and enjoyed their family, “enjoying the simple, important things.”
Grandson Jonathan McKay said, “They were always there for me; I do not ever remember them ever being too busy for me or anything. They loved education and always wanted to be learning things. When I went to college they would write me notes and words of encouragement. They were very special people and loved one another very much.”
The family, for purposes of this article, want to thank Quaker Heights “for all they did and the wonderful care they gave” to the couple.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.