Iowa War Veterans Who Reconnected After 70 Years Die Just 12 Days Apart
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (Nebraska) – Two war veterans have reconnected after decades apart, but everything has changed in the past two weeks.
Meetings are often unpredictable. Many wonder: “will there still be a connection?”
Last September, two Korean War veterans from Iowa who enlisted together in the military finally reconnected at a Council Bluffs assisted living center.
It had been 70 years since they had last seen each other.
Rolland Thomas already had a room here, and George Kelley knew about it.
“You don’t look like the last time I saw you,” Rolland said to George when they met.
They have picked up where they left off decades ago.
“The first day they met when you were there for the interview, I didn’t think they would ever stop talking,” said Imogene Kelley, George’s wife.
“What a coincidence that would have happened,” said Laurie Bell, Rolland’s daughter.
Bell was there with her husband and son.
“Grampa really treasured those visits with George. That’s all he talked about, reminiscing with someone who was there,” said Cole Bell, nephew of Rolland Thomas.
After several months of daily recovery, George Kelley’s health began to deteriorate rapidly.
The 90-year-old had to move to where he could receive more specialized care.
“It was devastating for him. They were going to be separated again,” Cole said.
Rolland Thomas, who is 89 and would still like to return to the farm, had a special request for his grandson.
“He says, ‘Cole, George is going downhill pretty fast. Will you take me to his funeral? will you be my ride?’ She was adamant that he would be there when George died,” added Cole.
It never happened.
Rolland Thomas died on February 1.
“We were all shocked by this,” said Susan Sorenson, George Kelley’s daughter.
Services were held at Fouts Funeral Home in the small town of Woodbine, Iowa.
Just 12 days later George Kelley died. The service of him was in the same place.
“Since he insisted someone take him to George’s funeral, we thought it important to be there for Imy yesterday,” said Ron Bell, son-in-law of Rolland Thomas.
Two men who came of age together, dating, after 70 years apart.
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