Together 74 years, Forest Grove couple dies a day apart
He was from Banks and she was from Portland. They met at a church revival meeting and married in Hillsboro on March 6, 1943.
He was fairly quiet and she was gregarious, but both had a keen sense of humor.
They died a day apart, he on March 13 and she on March 14, in care facilities in Hillsboro and Forest Grove, respectively. He was 92 and she was 94.
In between, Leonard Merton Shipley and Lorrine Hamilton Shipley spent seven decades together, raising three children in western Washington County before retiring to Florida, California and finally, back to Oregon when their health began to fail.
"I think it's a blessing they went together," said their daughter, Linda Kintz of Gales Creek. "They were a wonderful couple. They had a good life — I'm happy for them."
Born in Banks and reared in Hillsboro, Leonard joined the U.S. Army on March 18, 1943, 12 days after he and Lorrine were wed. He served for two years during World War II and was in the second wave of soldiers to land on Normandy beach in France, according to Kintz.
He was honorably discharged on Dec. 1, 1945, after receiving several commendations, including the Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. After that, Leonard got a job as a saw filer with Stimson Lumber Co. near Gaston and worked there for more than 40 years.
The Shipleys' first home, in the Vanport area of Portland, flooded in 1948 "and they lost everything," their daughter said. Undaunted, the couple moved to Pumpkin Ridge on Leonard's brother Bill's farm and Lorrine worked on the farm and in the strawberry fields until their children came along.
After that, Lorrine stayed home tending to the needs of their children — Linda, Lenny and Lonnie — and later worked at the Birds Eye Cannery in Hillsboro. "Daddy called us 'an L of a bunch' because our names all started with L," joked Linda.
In their leisure time, they enjoyed golfing with friends.
Lorrine also participated in a local bowling league, but her main hobby was decorating cakes — from wedding cakes to castles to jewelry box cakes — and she often gave friends and family members specially designed cakes for their birthday, Linda said.
"Mom was the most fun-loving one," Linda said, while "Daddy was more quiet. Mom loved people and having company over."
Leonard began losing his sight — at the end he was legally blind, Linda said — and Lorrine came down with diabetes while they were living at The Elms Retirement Community in Forest Grove in 2015. They were still in the independent living section of the facility when Lorrine had to be hospitalized Feb. 5.
"Mom got sick and was in the hospital and back and forth to rehab for five weeks," said Linda, adding that she moved in with her dad at The Elms after her mom contracted a blood infection.
By then, Leonard couldn't walk on his own and was "deteriorating rapidly" after several falls, Linda said. The family put Leonard on hospice March 3 and put Lorrine on hospice March 10. Leonard had only been at EmPress Hillsboro Health and Rehabilitation Center for 10 days when he passed away.
"The next to the last time I saw him we had an OK conversation," Linda said. "That's when I told him I thought we were going to lose Mommy. I think he just let go."
When she went to see her mother the next day at the Forest Grove Rehab and Care Center, she was "non-responsive," Linda said.
"They say the hearing is the last of the senses to go," she noted, so Linda whispered in her mother's ear.
"I told her the Lord took Daddy and he was waiting for her in heaven — so she went," Linda said. "I knew they wanted to be together … they loved each other right to the end."
Leonard and Lorrine Shipley will be laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland Tuesday morning. They are survived by their children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.