After being married for almost 63 years, Joe Korst didn't let two strokes stop him from carrying out his anniversary tradition — singing Kenny Rogers' "All That You Could Be" — for his wife, Sharon Korst.
Although he'd lost much of his ability to speak and memory due to the strokes, Joe Korst, 87, relearned the lyrics in five days and surprised his wife, 83, with his rendition on their 63rd wedding anniversary, the couple's daughter Theresa Kostrzewa told TODAY.
Kostrzewa filmed the remarkable feat, and it was shared on Facebook by WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Joe Korst was a patient.
In the clip, the couple sits at a dining table and holds hands as they serenade each other. "Come closer," the father of four says and then they share a kiss.
Joe Korst experienced his first stroke in late June and another a month later. Several days before their anniversary on Aug. 10, Kostrzewa encouraged her father and his speech therapist to learn some the song, which he'd performed every year since the Korsts' 50th.
"He's probably sung that song 150 times," Kostrzewa said, explaining that after her father's first stroke, he was only able to say the phrases, "I love you," and "I'm sorry." While he didn't learn all of the song, "he got the most important part," she said.
"When we sent the video of them singing, it was awesome for everybody," she added. "It was so sweet."
Naturally, the Korsts' love story — they met when Sharon Korst was in her late teens and Joe Korst was 22 — captured the hearts of the staff at WakeMed. Kostrzewa recalled a moment where one worker asked her father what his secret was for such a long and happy marriage.
"He says, 'Love the hell out of your wife,'" Kostrzewa said. "He tells people, 'I'm 63 years in love.' He just has always unfailingly loved my mom and lets everybody know it and everybody see it."
"My mom knows she's been blessed to have Joe Korst love her her entire life," Kostrzewa continued. "To have him be able to sing that gave her a feeling that everything's going to be OK, no matter what happens, we've got this."
When a local news outlet expressed interest in the video, Kostrzewa's mom was reticent to be on TV, but her father felt differently.
"They're definitely yin-yang," Kostrzewa quipped. "(Dad) goes, 'This is a story that needs to be told.' He holds my mom's hand and he says, 'It's your love story.'"