Together forever

Eugene and Mary Kirsch posed for a photo on a cruise in 2002. (submitted photo)

Eugene and Mary Kirsch of Roseville were inseparable during their 58 years of marriage and expected to be together after their deaths just 45 hours apart, say their daughters.

Mary, 79, died April 8 while Eugene, 83, died shortly before, on April 6, from a broken heart watching his wife fade away, said daughter Vicki Flannigan, who was with both of them at their deaths.

The couple lived in the same house on Western Avenue for 53 years, raised four daughters, Vicki, Karen Cossack, Kathy Townsley and Lori Fleming, ran an accounting business out of their home, went on 38 cruises together, played tennis and golf together and had countless scout troops over to see their antique cast iron toy collection and their gun collection with some toy guns and some real ones like Annie Oakley’s gun. The collections were among the largest in the nation at one time.

“Everyone in Roseville knew our parents. They made the rounds of garage sales on Thursdays together,” Vicki said.

Last days

The sisters kept their parents in their house and in the last year, made it their own nursing home, doing the cooking, cleaning, even physical therapy since Karen was trained in PT.

But Eugene and Mary both moved into Shoreview Senior Living the last few days before Mary died because, along with Parkinson’s disease, she had broken her tailbone in a fall three weeks previously and wasn’t doing well. They all knew it was the beginning of the end. She didn’t eat or drink the last few days. Their father was physically OK – just stressed the last three weeks watching his wife suffer. It was a lovely place for them both to pass away, Karen said.

The whole family had a beautiful Easter together after Mass.

“Then father kept up the vigil, hoping for a miracle that she would come back to him,” Vicki said.

“The shocker was my dad died,” she said. “He just couldn’t live without her.

“Dad took it so hard to see her so ill. He got up out of bed during the night, slipped to the floor and just collapsed — it was cardiac arrest and a broken heart,” Vicki said.  “I cradled him in my arms and he died immediately.”

“He wanted to welcome his wife in heaven,” Karen added. “We think he got his miracle and was carried to the floor divinely.”

He died at 3:33 a.m., coincidentally, the address of their previous house, said Vicki, who had been sleeping on the floor between them the last few days. Mary was in a lot of pain and wanted to die. As she was floating between heaven and earth, they told her Eugene had died and to look for look for him and reach out for his hand.

Father Williams from Maternity of Mary Catholic Church Catholic Church performed the last rites hours before she passed away. The funeral was the first double one he had done, and one of a few ever done at Mueller-Bies Funeral Home.

Mary and Eugene will miss their granddaughter’s wedding in June but were buried in the tux and dress they were planing to wear for the event.

“We were very happy they went together. He couldn’t live without her,” Karen said.

“It was sad, sweet, tragic and divine,” the sisters agreed.

“And it’s a little bit of our healing to tell the story,” Vicki added.

Mary and Eugene are also survived by grandchildren, Angie, Bob, Shannon, Bridget, Tom, Jim, Matt, and Katie; and Mary’s brother, Ray De Mont.

The four Kirsch daughters have established the Kirsch Memorial Fund for a marble statue of Pope John Paul ll for the church. Donations may be sent to Kirsch Memorial/Maternity of Mary Catholic Church, 1414 N. Dale St., St. Paul, MN 55117.

Pamela O’Meara can be reached at or 651-748-7818.

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