Couple spends lifetime together, refuses to part in death |

Couple spends lifetime together, refuses to part in death

F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal David Allen talks Friday afternoon about his parents' 64 years of marriage. Bart and Evelyn Allen were holding hands July 31 at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center as they died.

The children of Bart and Evelyn Allen said their parents had been together since their first meeting in a Kansas tomato patch in 1942. Sixty-four years and four children later, the Allens wouldn’t even let death separate them.

“We knew that they were both staying alive for each other,” Patti Bulters, 59, said on Thursday, three days after her parents died holding hands in the intensive care unit of Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. “If they had to go, we prayed for this because that’s what they wanted.”

In recent years Bart, 85, and Evelyn, 84, had both been in poor health. Dad had been suffering from a bad heart for 15 years, and two years ago the children thought Mom wouldn’t make it after doctors discovered she needed a heart valve. But she survived, Patti said.

Then on July 25, their 64th wedding anniversary, Bart fell ill. He was admitted into the hospital, and the prognosis wasn’t good, Patti said.

Three days later, her mother told her what the family already knew.

“She said ‘You know, Dad’s just hanging on for me,'” Patti recalled.

As a girl, Patti said, she never recalled her parents fighting. And it was evident this mechanic and his homemaker bride were in love. “They always held hands,” she said.

When the kids were young, the Allen family was a tight-knit one, Patti said. They bowled together and played ball together. She recalled the one night her parents had made plans to go out, they were gone only an hour before returning home.

“They came back because they couldn’t handle being gone from us,” she said with a laugh. “We were a family.”

On July 29, with her husband heavily sedated and in and out of consciousness in the intensive care unit, Evelyn fell ill at her son Dave’s house.

He took her into the hospital, and after admitting her into the ICU four doors from Bart, doctors told Dave his mother had congestive heart failure.

On the morning of July 31, Dave said, his mother was “Chatty Cathy.”

“My wife and daughter went to see her, and she was talking away. She asked ‘How’s Dad?’ and they told her, ‘Not well.’ After that she went downhill fast.”

Dave said both of his parents were unconscious, and it was evident the end was near. He said he remembers standing in the hall of the hospital thinking it would be nice if they could be in the same room, when his daughter asked a doctor that very question.

“It was like the Red Sea parted. Everyone moved out of the way and they moved Mom into Dad’s room and pushed their beds together,” he said.

The children placed their mother’s hand into their father’s.

Father Jerry Hanley arrived to administer the last rites, Dave said. And then without being asked, he placed his hands on those of Bart and Evelyn and renewed their wedding vows.

“About two minutes after her vows, she gave up. Mom was gone,” Dave said.

After Evelyn’s death, Dave remembers telling his father, “Look Dad she’s waiting on you, don’t make her wait.”

A doctor scrounged up a camera and they took a close-up shot of those clasped hands – the hands that had nurtured children and grandchildren and an undying love for more than six decades.

Eighty minutes later, Bart rejoined his bride.

Dave, who said he wasn’t a praying man, said he knew exactly why things happened the way they did.

“Dad always looked out for Mom. Dad loved her, there was no two ways about it, and Mom always kept him well taken care of,” he said. “I think they planned it out, not consciously, but they were so connected, they could talk to each other without speaking. This was how it should be.”

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.