Dying husband and wife Virginia and Tommy Stevens have hospital beds close together, so the couple who married in 1954 can spend their final moments together
- Virginia and Tommy Stevens were high school sweethearts who went to the same college and married in 1954.
- Hospital staff decided to move their beds closer together after realizing their family was having difficulty sharing their time with each other.
- The couple never stopped holding hands until the end
In a touching – but heartbreaking – moment, a husband and wife have died after spending much of the last 69 years together.
Virginia and Tommy Stevens, both 91, met while attending Dobyns-Bennett High School together in Kingsport, Tennessee and married in 1954 after attending the University of Tennessee.
Tommy was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital for Alzheimer’s disease and aspiration pneumonia. There, his wife Virginia fell and was rushed to the same hospital.
The staff put their beds together as they received the treatment and held hands until the end.
Tommy died on September 8, while Virginia died nine days later on September 17.
Virginia and Tommy Stevens, both 91, met while attending Dobyns-Bennett High School together in Kingsport, Tennessee, and married in 1954 after attending the University of Tennessee.
Tommy was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital for Alzheimer’s disease and aspiration pneumonia. While there, his wife Virginia fell and was rushed to the same hospital.
Virginia and Tom lived in various locations throughout the Eastern United States while Tom served in the Army and worked for Burlington Industries after being honorably discharged in 1962.
Eventually, the couple moved to Memphis where they had their children, Karen and Greg, and founded and built Distribution and Transportation Services, Inc.
They grew the company into a large, independent family of transportation and logistics companies throughout the southeastern United States.
After more than 50 years in business, Tommy and Virginia retired and moved to Franklin, Tennessee, to be near their children and grandchildren.
Doyle Thomas Stevens Jr, also known as Tommy, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and lived in a memory care unit in Virginia’s assisted living facility.
After suffering from aspiration pneumonia and sepsis, he was transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. When treatments began to fail, he was transferred to the palliative care unit.
The same morning Tommy was taken to VUMC, Virginia fell and suffered six broken ribs, a broken spine, and a hip injury. She too was taken to VUMC and admitted to the trauma unit.
PCU staff decided to move their beds closer together after realizing their family was having difficulty splitting time between the two.
Karen Kreager, their daughter said: “He was awake when she came in. His eyes were open. He didn’t communicate much, just in small whispers. But he knew she was there and that she would be right next to him.
“They kept holding hands the whole time. She won’t let go.
At the time, Virginia said, “You know, it helped me a lot. It just gave me peace to not have to worry about him. He was going to be with me.
‘They kept holding hands the whole time. She won’t let go’
Besides their son and daughter, the Stevenses had four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Dr. Mohana Karlekar, medical director of the Palliative Care Program at Vanderbilt, said seeing the couple together was a reminder of what’s truly important.
“From the moment we brought Mrs. Stevens in, she held her husband’s hand and cared for him with great love,” he said.
“She was able to tell me on Monday that she was at peace with what was happening and that she wanted to be there until the end,” Karlekar said.
Besides their son and daughter, they had four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.