The tight-knit relationship of Herbey and Maria Garza, a Lansing couple married nearly 72 years, continued to the very end.
“Inseparable.” That’s how family members described the couple who died a day apart.
Herbey R. Garza Sr., 90, a World War II veteran, died Sunday morning, around 8:30 a.m. ET at his Lansing home.
His wife, Maria, 89, followed the next day, dying at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Their deaths, just 28 hours apart, did not surprise family members.
“We expected them to go hand in hand. She missed it by a little bit,” said their son, Richard Garza, 64.
The couple leaves behind a huge family. There are 14 living children (three have died) and nearly 200 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Family gatherings grew so large that “we have had to rent halls for many years,” Richard Garza said.
Maria had been in hospice since June, battling congestive heart failure, diabetes and other health issues. When she moved to a hospital bed in the family’s first-floor dining room in their Westside neighborhood, her husband had a second bed moved to be near her.
He was hospitalized in March with heart issues. He decided he didn’t want to go back to the hospital.
“My dad, when he left the hospital, he told my mom he was going to die. And she said they were going to die together. They made a vow,” said daughter Rebecca Garza, 53.
Rebecca and other family members cared for the couple side-by-side since March.
It wasn’t unusual for them to get sick back-to-back with one of them rallying to care for the other. In fact, they both had colon cancer surgeries in the same year in 2004.
They met in Coleman, Texas, growing up in the same neighborhood. They married July 28, 1945. Their children were born in Texas. The family worked the fields as migrant workers for many years before settling in Lansing in 1967, where Herbey Garza went to work for the former Motor Wheel Corp.
Maria Garza was a stay-at-home mom who later worked as a presser for Sohn Linens and Kent Deluxe Cleaners.
In their retirement, they loved to play cards together into the night or stand side-by-side in the kitchen making tamales.
Their children described them as hard-working and good parents who helped raise their many grandchildren.
Their family is planning a double funeral with burial at St. Joseph Cemetery in Lansing.
And just as they were in life, they will be laid to rest side by side, inseparable.
Follow Judy Putnam on Twitter: @JudyPutnam