AKRON, Ohio — The love story of James and Lauretta Burke, of Akron, has captured the hearts of millions of people across the world.
“It’s just so sweet. The look they are giving each other,” said Peg Zimmer, their daughter.
A look that was captured on camera during James’ last moments on earth, his wife Lauretta gazing at him in his hospital bed.
“My niece took that picture and put it right beside a picture of them on their wedding day 64 years ago. And then she put it together and put it online,” said Zimmer.
The photo went viral, with more than a million people viewing it in less than a day.
“It’s very much like the Notebook,” laughed Zimmer. A romance that spanned six decades despite illness and age.
“Young love. Also, my mom losing her memory over the years with dementia. It really paralleled The Notebook when my mother had it and the husband reminded her of all the good times they had together,” said Zimmer.
Like when they met at a party right after James returned home from World War II, or when they got married and settled down in Akron.
“They had nine children, none of whom are divorced. They were just an awesome example, 64 years. They sacrificed a lot for us,” said Zimmer.
The Burkes had 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A strong Irish family centered around family and faith.
And as the years passed, Lauretta started to show signs of dementia.
And James spent his last moments taking care of her, before dying of heart disease in late November.
“They just really had a strong love, a strong connection. They could read each other’s minds. They would finish each other’s sentences. They just were meant for each other,” said Zimmer.
Lauretta continues to battle dementia in a care facility in Akron surrounded by loving family.