The Notebook is perhaps one of the most classic love stories of our generation. We all remember the lump in our throats when the nurse discovered both Noah and Allie peacefully passed away, side-by-side.
To die together on the very same day after years of marital bliss, it’s almost too good to be true. And that’s why it’s fiction… or is it?
Isabell Whitney and Preble Staver are the real-life version of this classic love story. The two met on a blind date while they were both enrolled in college in Philadelphia.
According to people who knew them well, they knew they were meant for one another early on.
The couple even shared nearly the same birthday. Preble was born on October 17, 1921, and Isabell was born that same year on October 31.
As the US entered into WWII, the doting couple decided to enroll together to serve their country. Preble went into the Marines while Isabell became a Navy nurse in Maryland.
Five months after the end of WWII, the pair were married on February 15, 1946.
Post-war, Preble made a career as a banker and lobbyist, which meant the two moved around the country a lot. They lived in Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida – to name a few.
Meanwhile, the pair kept busy raising five children.
Their 62-year-old daughter, Laurie Staver Clinton, said her beloved father was “a tall, outgoing man with a strong, ‘larger than life’ personality.” She described her mother as “[her] heart” and someone who “taught [her] how to be a kind person, how to be a compassionate person.”
Despite all of life’s blessings, they were no stranger to tragedy. Sadly, in 1975, their son Peter passed away during the last football game of his senior year of high school.
Laurie remembers the pain this brought to their family, as well as how it brought out “a softer side of my dad. Parents aren’t supposed to bury their kids and that really took a toll on my folks, but it also brought them together.”
“Something like that can either tear a couple apart, but they made a pact to get through it together. They really were each other’s support team,” she goes on to explain.
Life was far from easy but together the two made it work. In 2013, things got tough when Isabell began to develop dementia. As a result, the couple moved into a long-term care facility in Norfolk, Virginia.
They both lived at the facility but in separate rooms, as Isabell stayed in the Memory Care Unit. It was difficult to watch his wife fade further and further away, but Preble was there for her each and every day.
“They just found another way to express their love. Dad, even after he stopped walking and was in a wheelchair, he would wheel himself down to the Memory Care Unit and go visit mom. When I would reunite them, they always, the first thing they’d do was put their hands out and hold each other’s hand and tell each other they loved each other,” Laurie recalled.
Staver Family via npr.org
On his 96th birthday, Preble had just one request: to take a nap with his wife.
Staff were happy to oblige, and the couple enjoyed a three-hour nap, side by side, hand in hand.
“There was not a single word spoken between the two of them. They held hands and just fell asleep.”
Several days later, just shy of Isabell’s 96th birthday, on October 25, 2017, Isabell passed away. Preble was there by her side.
Fourteen hours later, Preble passed away.
71 years of life, love, and so many memories – and their legacy continues to inspire people around the world.
Laurie summed it up perfectly:
“Mom and dad really lived out that, if you make a commitment, and even though life gets rough or life gets in the way, you work through life. And you live your life together.”
Staver Family via People.com
So, how can you create this type of love in your life? According to Mudita Rastogi, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist in Arlington Heights, Illinois:
“Your interests, opinions, and experiences can change as you grow. But if you share the same core belief systems, you will have a platform from which to build a strong relationship.”
According to Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in relationship issues:
“Long lasting true love is when two people make a commitment to each other and choose to act in ways that sustain their feelings for each other and their connection to each other over time.”