Devoted couple who spent 76 years of their life together – even working alongside each other – die within days of each other aged 99 and 97
An inseparable couple who were married for 76 years and went everywhere together including work have died within three days of each other.
Phyllis and Miles Higgin met at a dance in 1933 when she was just 15 years old – marrying in 1939 and only separated when he was sent to war.
They even worked alongside each other running pubs and once retired would go out for walks with their dog up to three or four times a day.
Even as they fell ill they shared a double room together at their care home in Burnley, Lancs.
Their family say Phyllis died aged 97 – and Miles died just three days later aged 99.
Loved ones thought poorly Miles would go first but believe “he waited for her to die – he didn’t want to leave her alone.”
Their only child, Angela Hartley, 66, paid tribute to her parents’ wonderful love story.
She told how they shared a double room at the Abbey Grange Care Home in for the past 19 months and were much loved by the staff there.
Mrs Hartley said: “They would holiday together, shop together, walk together. They did absolutely everything together. They didn’t spend any time apart.
“They never talked of having a secret to their marriage but would always talk things through and would do everything together.
“At the end of the day they just loved each other very much.
“They would sit together holding hands all day long and my dad would be constantly telling staff that he loved her. He had the staff in tears all the time.”
Their romance began in 1933 when they met at a dance when Phyllis was just 15 years old.
Mum-of-two Angela said: “Dad always said that he knew he had met the woman he wanted to marry.”
But the pair didn’t rush into things and did not marry until 1939.
Miles was then sent to war and they were apart during his active service where he worked as a cook for the Royal Artillery, stationed in Germany and Belgium.
During that time they exchanged many-a-love letter.
They were lucky to be reunited a staggering six years later.
Retired Angela, who used to work as a supervisor in a doctors’ surgery, said: “So many young men lost their lives and did not come home.
“Dad often talked of how he was lucky to be alive. He talked of several trains that he should have gone on but didn’t and then they ended up being blown up.”
After the war Phyliss became a weaver in the mills and Miles a miner.
Only child Angela, a much wanted and longed for child, came along in 1949.
She said: “I had a happy childhood and a happy life with them. They were brilliant parents and brilliant grandparents. They were family oriented and they were very devoted.
“They did everything together, they never went anywhere on their own.”
Through her teens the family lived in pubs for around 15 years when they entered the pub trade and managed two pubs in the market town during the 1960s.
Mr and Mrs Higgin, who had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, were popular figures, with Miles ending his working life at the former Brockhall Hospital while Mrs Higgin worked in the canteen at Great Universal Stores.
Angela said: “Both my parents suffered with dementia. My mum was admitted to hospital after a fall and it was the proviso for her release that she go into a home.
“During her hospital stay I had looked after my dad and found it very difficult to cope. He did not like being without my mum.
“It turned out there was a double room at the care home so they went there together.”
After they retired the would spend hours walking together. They had a little dog and would go out three or four times a day for walks, walking around the town.
As their health deteriorated a couple of years ago Miles became Phyllis’ carer as she suffered with dementia.
But Miles soon became ill himself with dementia and several other life debilitating ailments such as prostate cancer and chronic lung disease.
Angela said: “I cannot fault the carers in the care home. They didn’t just care for my mum and dad, I felt they actually loved them.
“It became hard at the very end, we didn’t tell my dad that my mum was ill because we didn’t want to upset him.
“I was there during her final days and was with her as she passed away.
“It was heartbreaking telling my dad but I don’t think it sank in at first. We took him to her and he gave her a kiss.
“But it wasn’t until the next day that he asked for my mum all day long. It was so sad.
“I then stayed with my dad as his health deteriorated.
“I used to think my dad would go first because he was in worse health than my mum, but now I know that he was holding on for Mum. He didn’t want to leave her alone.
“Then when she had gone, he knew he could go too.”
A joint funeral for the couple took place on Christmas Eve.
Angela said: “It was a sad day to have a funeral on but it was a beautiful ceremony. They were both carried in vintages hearses with a procession of vintage cars, it was absolutely wonderful.
“It is so hard to lose them both together, but at the same time it is nice to know they have never been apart, they have lived long and happy lives and they lived it together.”