Couple married for 50 years die minutes apart from coronavirus while holding hands

Mississippi couple Jerry and Frances Williamson, both 72, died six minutes apart after contracting the virus on a cruise ship, according to their pastor.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

A couple who had been married for more than 50 years died only six minutes apart from the coronavirus last week while holding hands until the end, according to Mississippi's Sun Herald.

Jerry Austin Williamson and his wife, Frances Jewel Bond Williamson, both died at 72 on April 1 while holding hands at a hospital in Mississippi, North Long Beach Baptist Church Pastor Rick Clark said Monday in a livestreamed funeral service for the couple on Facebook.

Frances and Jerry Williamson died just minutes apart from the coronavirus at 72 while holding hands in a Mississippi hospital.Riemann Family Funeral Homes

"They lived their life together and they entered into the next life together," Clark said.

They contracted the coronavirus on a recent cruise and Frances was put on a ventilator first, which Jerry was "heartbroken" about before he then grew sick himself, Clark said.

"Jerry called me right after that happened and you could tell the tears in his eyes," Clark said of a conversation they had after Frances was put on a ventilator. "He was scared to death."

The couple frequently went on cruises and often came back with some type of minor illness, so there was no initial fear when they grew ill on the most recent one, Clark said. He did not indicate where they traveled on the one in which they contracted the coronavirus.

Jerry served in the U.S. Navy and was a retired public works supervisor at the U.S. Naval Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, according to the couple's obituary. His casket was draped with an American flag at the livestreamed funeral in honor of his service.

Frances was a retired phlebotomist, and both were dedicated members of the North Long Beach Baptist Church, where Jerry served as a deacon and Frances worked on the flower committee.

The couple had endured the loss of a child, and Jerry Williamson survived the loss of one lung to cancer, according to Clark.

They are survived by two children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, according to their obituary. They will be buried at Biloxi National Cemetery at a later date.