LUBBOCK, TX — Together in life, and now COVID-19 has put them together in death. They died three days apart. He was 97, and she was 95.
“They were just as much in love … They were in love until they very end,” Dorinda Cooper, their daughter, said.
Homer and Jo Jones grew up on neighboring farms in Slaton, TX, and at first, they didn’t like each other. After a chance blind date, they fell in love, and they later got married. For 74 years, they were never apart, and not even the coronavirus could change that.
Jo got COVID-19 and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance on October 18, followed by Homer on October 22. Two days later, Homer died— separating the couple for the first time in the better part of a century. Three days after Homer, Jo died.
But theirs is a love story spanning seven decades, nearly a century before the coronavirus first crossed anyone’s mind.
“When he got back from the service [in World War II], one of his buddies said ‘I have a date tonight, and she has a friend. Would you like to go on a double date?’ And they flipped a coin to see which one got which girl, and my dad got my mom,” Cooper said.
Homer was a World War II veteran turned teacher and minister, and he preached and remained active in church leadership until he was 95.
When he turned 18, he didn’t hesitate to do his bit and join the Army Air Corps. His war stories are the stuff of movies. During a mission in Greece, his plane was shot down, and he and his crew had to parachute to the ground. They were met with Nazi soldiers, who captured them and stripped them of everything, even the boots on their feet.
Homer was taken to a POW camp in Austria, but after befriending some locals through the fence, he was able to escape. He and one of his other crew members trekked 45 days in the mountains across Europe to make it to Sofia, Bulgaria, where they were able to reunite with other American soldiers.
After the war, Homer and Jo got married in 1946, and together they had five kids, eight grandkids and eight great grandkids.
But when Jo got COVID-19 in mid-October, they knew it was a matter of time before Homer got it too.
“My heart just kind of sank … It was kind of a surreal feeling,” Homer Jones Jr., son of Homer and Jo Jones, said on realizing both his parents had COVID-19.
In less than one week, their four living children lost both their parents, and some even contracted COVID-19 themselves.
“I think part of the reason [my mom] died is because she wanted to die. She did not want to be here without Daddy,” Cooper said.
“[Mama] said, ‘When’s Daddy coming home? When’s Daddy going to be here?’ Mama, Daddy’s not coming back … so they’re together [in heaven]. They’re walking that street of gold, and they were always hand in hand,” Jones said.
On top of their grief, the family added they were devastated they couldn’t give their parents the service they deserved or a funeral at all due to virus concerns. But to their surprise, their community had other plans for a safe way to say farewell to the World War II veteran and the woman who always stood by him.
Dozens of their friends and fellow veterans gathered and lined the roads on Saturday November 7 as the burial procession passed, waving flags and saluting.
“That was more emotional than the burial service, knowing that people were honoring Daddy, honoring the flag,” Jones said.
The couple that began life together is now resting together, buried side by side in the Terry County Cemetery.
“They were there every celebration. They knew all the warts and they loved us all unconditionally … They will leave a legacy that will last a lifetime and into another lifetime,” Cooper said.