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Ill. couple, wed 71 years, die same day

CHICAGO — A husband and wife who eloped in 1942 and were married for more than seven decades died hours apart this week at a hospice in northern Illinois.

Relatives say Robert and Nora Viands were inseparable during their marriage, which included three separate wedding ceremonies. Together, they raised five children.

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‘‘They were really never apart,’’ said a daughter, Barb Milton. ‘‘They would hold hands in the dining room.’’

The two lived together in their home until moving to a Rockford retirement center this year as their health failed.

Robert Viands, 92, who had Parkinson’s disease, died at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday. Nora Viands, 88, died at 4:45 p.m. She had had pneumonia.

Milton said that whenever the couple would go anywhere, when her father decided to leave he would tell his wife and be out the door. He would wait in the car as Nora would linger, saying her goodbyes.

‘‘We joked [after Nora died] that he was tugging on her, saying ‘Come on Nora,’ and she said: ‘No, I have to say goodbye to the kids,’ ’’ Milton said.

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