GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a quiet neighborhood in Jenison lived one of the liveliest couples.
“Everybody just knew who they were and knew how caring they were,” said Michael Hirt, reflecting on his parents.
A lifelong, loving couple died just five days apart from each other — both from complications with coronavirus.
Ronald “Ron” and Marjorie “Marj” Hirt were 88 and 87, respectively, born and raised in Grand Rapids.
“They’d give you the example of what to emulate,” said Thom Hirt, also remembering his parents. “How to treat your spouse and that there are always going to be tough times. But you always work around that.”
Ron and Marj met in junior high, and they were together for 72 years. Much of that time was spent at their home in Jenison.
Ron enlisted in the Marines right out of high school. He became a steelworker and welder. Both he and his wife had a history of service for their community.
Both of their death certificates list COVID-19.
The sons say their parents were both asymptomatic.
“To say that directly COVID was the cause of their death? I don’t know that I can say that,” Michael said.
“Maybe not a cause. But maybe — certainly a factor,” Thom said.
The brothers say their dad’s health had been on the decline and that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) played a bigger role.
Their mother, however, was a healthy woman.
“My mom was kind of a shock to us in the sense that she had a heart attack,” Thom said.
Her heart attack happened on Thanksgiving. She was taking cholesterol medication. But other than that, no real history of heart problems.
“I can’t imagine going forward that it isn’t going to be on your mind every year. As an anniversary type thing,” Thom said. “It was pretty difficult. My wife and I were here with my mom when she suffered her heart attack. So, that’s our fleeting memory of her: going out the door in the ambulance. That was very difficult.”
They say that their mom was a woman full of energy and still driving around until the day she passed.
“They weren’t necessarily a real ‘stay-at-home’ type couple,” Thom said. “They did enjoy going out on occasion, like to the restaurants. Something that they really enjoyed doing and then had a hard time trying to dissuade them from doing any of that.”
Thom said Christmas this year without them is “going to be a little vacant.”
“It’ll be hard being the first one, of course. It was going to be different anyway, in the sense of how you’d normally celebrate. But this year it’s going to be a little more rugged,” he said.