SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some loves last a lifetime, but there are only a few loves for which a lifetime is never enough.
NEWS10 ABC’s Anya Tucker spoke with the adult children of Bill and Sue Farrell about the love and devotion they shared. It was a love that lasted a lifetime and beyond.
“This is not a tragedy. This is a legacy of love,” Kathleen Stewart, daughter, said.
That legacy of love began in 1953 when a young Bill Farrell met Sue Dunson while attending St. Peter’s in Saratoga Springs.
Bill was a football jock. Sue, quiet and smart.
“I used to ask Mom, ‘Oh, did you date Daddy in school?’ She would say ‘No. Your Dad was a brat,'” daughter Sheila Gober said.
That brat never forgot the pretty gal he left behind. Even as they both went off to college; he to Villanova and she to study nursing at St. Joseph’s College.
“My dad told my mom that he was going to marry her, and she just laughed at it,” added son Brian Farrell.
“She sent him a Dear John letter while he was serving in Germany. I said, ‘what did you do when Mom sent you that letter?’ He said, ‘I just ignored it. Like I knew I was going to come home and marry her,” says Sheila.
When he returned home in 1961, that’s exactly what they did. Bill taught history at Saratoga High School.
In 1966, he moved on to a career with the Department of Defense. He and Sue took their five children along on a globetrotting excursion that would last for 30 years. Sue, who worked as a nurse, never met a stranger, her children say.
Wherever in the world he was, Bill remained a hardcore Villanova fan.
The main thing that defined them more than anything was, “love, loyalty, and commitment.”
Kathleen adds, “As the baby of five I would always say, ‘Who’s your favorite?’ And my dad would say, ‘You know you children need to always understand that it’s always your mother. Your mother is always my favorite.'”
Years turned into decades. After retiring, the couple returned to Saratoga. Now, in their 80s, Bill had become sick, and Sue’s devotion as wife and nurse never wavered.
“I had hired a nurse to help, and she essentially fired her because it was her job. It was her life’s calling to care for her husband,” Brian said.
On September 21, Sue’s job, her main calling, came to an end when Bill died at home.
“In my mind, I think my father just said, ‘it’s time’ and he went to heaven. And my mother said ‘My job is done.’ And that’s where she wanted to be, with him.”
Only those very close to her knew that Sue’s health had been failing, too.
Yet, she pulled together enough strength to make the funeral arrangements, her final act as a loving wife. And then, because her heart could not go on without Bill’s, it stopped less than 24 hours later.
“The irony is they both passed in the same spot in the hallway upstairs 21 hours apart. There’s not a clearer message than that.”
At their funeral service, they remained as they did in life: side by side. Urns containing their ashes were placed right next to one another.
“Losing them, we will miss them forever, but this isn’t tragic. They went out together, and this is love for us,” Kathleen said.
There’s a picture of Bill and Sue in a frame with words on it that seem to sum up how they must have felt about each other.
“If you live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus one day, so I would never have to live a day without you.”
Bill and Sue were laid to rest at Saratoga National Cemetery. As they were in life, they were buried side by side.
Special thanks to NEWS10 photographer Ken Rader for his beautiful work on this story.