About a month after celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary, a British war bride and her beloved Canadian husband died within hours of each other in a hospital in Ottawa last week.
Their stunned children said the deaths defied “any sort of logic.”
Jean Spear, 94, who met her husband George Spear at a London dance hall during World War II, died at 4.30 a.m. in Queensway Carleton Hospital on Friday, a few days after being admitted for pneumonia, reported the Ottawa Citizen.
A few hours later, George, too, breathed his last.
According to the paper, George, a 97-year-old war veteran, “fell into a deep sleep” two days after Jean was brought to the hospital. He was soon admitted to the same facility and died at 9.45 a.m. on Friday.
“We tell stories to make ourselves feel better. But this defies any sort of logic. We were overwhelmed by the suddenness of it,” said the couple’s daughter, Heather Spear.
The Spears married in August 1942 in Kingston upon Thames in Britain, where George had been stationed with the 1st Corps Field Survey Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers. They’d met a year before in a London dance hall, dancing the night away.
“I was there in a red dress, my husband will tell you, and he came over and asked me to dance,” Jean recalled in a 2006 interview with CBC News. “He had his army boots on, but he could dance. And his rhythm was perfect. So we didn’t dance with anyone else the whole evening.”
As World War II roiled on, Jean moved to George’s native Canada, where she established the country’s first club for war brides. According to the BBC, about 50,000 British women moved to Canada at the end of the war after marrying Canadian servicemen in Europe.
For her service, Jean was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.
Five years later, she and George were invited to a private reception with Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, held in Ottawa.
During the event, George reportedly showed Kate a 1942 photograph of Jean that he’d kept inside his soldier’s beret.
“Kate asked if I had always kept the photo and I replied, ‘All through the war and ever since,’” George said at the time.
Speaking to reporters on the couple’s 72nd wedding anniversary, Jean shared her “secret” to wedded bliss.
“I’ve taken a lot of time to consider it. I realized when we met that we were on to a good thing,” Jean told the Kitchissippi Times, an Ottawa paper. “When we got married, we thought we were in heaven. Throughout our lives, the ups and downs, we know that together, we are a good thing. We recognize it and have never failed to acknowledge it.”