Leslie and Patricia McWaters — Jackson natives who were married almost 50 years — did “almost everything together,” relatives said. They danced together. They watched their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids grow up together. And in the end, they contracted the coronavirus and died together.
Leslie, better known to friends and family as LD, and Pat, who relatives said was “definitely the boss,” died at the same time, 4:23 p.m. last Tuesday, at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson. They were 75 and 78, respectively.
“It should be no surprise that they went to be with the Lord together within the very same minute,” their funeral home obit said. “The hospital staff that cared for them, as they lost their battle to COVID, said it was too close to call. They recorded their deaths at the exact same time.”
But, the obit added: “Those of us that know them, know that mom went first and said, ‘LD, it’s time to go!’ ”
Their story is both romantic and tragic as more than 9,000 Michiganders have died from the pandemic since March, and more than 350,000 people have had the virus including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who is on a ventilator a week into hospitalization.
A vaccine is expected to be available in the state by the end of the month.
But for many that is too late.
One of the couple’s daughters, Joanna Sisk, said her parents likely got the virus from dining out at restaurants. Sisk said she wishes they had stayed home, but her mom and dad didn’t feel that being cooped up all the time was living their life.
However, Sisk said, after they got sick, they regretted not being more careful.
They went to the hospital together, Sisk said, and in a week, they “went to heaven together.”
“People should be worried, and they should be concerned and take it seriously,” Sisk said of the coronavirus. “It’s not difficult, when you have to run to Meijer to put a mask on and do the things that need to be done. I don’t want one other family to have to go through what our family has had to go through.”
Wed on April 16, 1973, they made their marriage work despite — or perhaps because — they “were polar opposites,” according to the obit. LD was a truck driver and Pat was a nurse. LD was “fun loving.” Pat was “no nonsense.”
They first met at Julie’s Bar & Grill in Jackson and ever since loved to go dancing there.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserves and a member of the Lions Club, LD spent a lifetime hauling a variety of things, including asphalt and cheesecakes. He retired from Hendrickson Trucking, but his true specialty, his family said, was making his famous strawberry booze for the chili cook-off.
He “had more friends than anyone could count and he loved them all dearly,” family said. Among some of his favorite — and irreverent expressions — were: “It’s colder than a well diggers ass!” and “It’s too far from your heart to kill you!”
Pat worked at Foote Allegiance Hospital for 35 years as a registered nurse in the operating room. After retirement, she kept in touch with colleagues. She was best friends with her sisters, sister-in-law, and daughters.
In the summers, the couple hosted family pool parties. Relatives said Pat “made way too much food.”
They also enjoyed driving their ‘59 Corvette to car shows and meet up with family and friends, and at the end of the summer, they’d take an annual family canoe trip in Evart. The also enjoyed spending their retirement watching their grandchildren grow up.
Every Tuesday, they babysat their great-granddaughter.