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'Miraculous love story,' say children of Council Bluffs couple who passed away together

True love and marriage with a bittersweet ending
Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 19:13:35-04

A Council Bluffs couple — married for 73 years — passed away within minutes of each other on Oct. 23.

Their children and grandchildren call their marriage a "miraculous love story."

Margaret and Bob Darnell started their love story as high school sweethearts.

"So they met in high school, I believe my dad was a senior and my mom was a junior," said son, Pat Darnell.

Bob served in the Navy during World War II. After living in California for five years, they settled in Council Bluffs, starting a family with four children. Margaret worked at a hospital and Bob worked for Union Pacific Railroad.

"My dad worked the night shift and my mom worked the day shift, Dad would get us all ready for school in the morning and Mom would come home and get us ready at night. They worked as a team," Pat said.

Their kids, Denise Sullivan and Pat Darnell say their parents had all the elements of a strong marriage.

"They really had true love and trust and they respected each other," Pat said.

Margaret and Bob embodied the vows they took; true to each other in good times and bad.

"They had their arguments but they always worked it out and we always knew everything was okay," Pat said.

In sickness and in health.

"Dad started out as prostate (cancer), went to his bladder and then to his brain and finally into his bones, so he had several little bouts of it, but he came back like a trooper through all of (it)," Denise said.

"Mom started into her lungs, she never was a smoker, and so from the lungs it went to the bones and that was it," Denise said.

Until death did they part — dying within minutes of each other.

"They were both declining at the same pace, even though they weren't communicating with us, it was like they were communicating with each other," Pat said.

It's the belief that love can do remarkable things — that's something grandson Cody Sullivan clings onto.

"Love's not perfect, there's obviously going to be bumps in the road everywhere in life, but they woke up every day in life knowing that it's me and you," Cody said.

"Something happened here, it was truly a miracle that it happened the way it had," Pat said.

Bob and Margaret leave four children, 11 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren behind.

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