After a lifetime together they died hours apart... sweethearts to the end
Two lifelong sweethearts – who had been together for almost 70 years – were buried side by side having died just hours apart.
The married couple, both aged 87, passed away on the same day from natural causes.
James Wylie died at his home in Broughshane, near Ballymena, on Friday.
And just five hours later his wife Elizabeth passed away at Antrim Area Hospital after her family told her: "You can go now, mummy."
The couple were buried together in their home village on Monday.
Their funeral signalled the end of an enduring romance which began when they met 69 years ago. They were 23 when they married in 1949.
Their daughter, Diane Barbour, said her parents were inseparable and could not bear to be apart.
"They died five hours apart," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"My mum was taken to hospital last Wednesday (after a short illness) and never regained consciousness.
"We were taking turns sitting with daddy and I was with him on Thursday night and he passed before 6am on Friday morning.
"I phoned my daughter who was at the hospital and told her to tell mummy she could go.
"Five hours to the minute later mummy went. It's a shock."
Mr Wylie had been ill for some time.
His wife, who in the past had worked as a nurse, had been helping to take care of him.
The couple had two children and four grandchildren.
Mr and Mrs Wylie's funeral service took place in First Broughshane Presbyterian Church on Monday.
Ms Barbour said her mother had prepared herself for the passing of her husband.
"Daddy hadn't been well for a while and with the help of carers, who were amazing, and the family, we helped mummy," she said.
"We wanted daddy to stay and pass at home.
"When I left my mummy on Wednesday she had picked out the suit she wanted to wear to dad's funeral because we didn't expect him to see out the weekend.
"What has happened has been such a shock, though."
She added: "Everybody knew daddy, he was a go-to man, and people respected him. He loved vintage tractors and cars."
Paul Frew, a DUP MLA and Sunday school teacher at the church the couple attended, said the loss was "desperately sad".
A close family friend said the deaths had stunned the rural area.
"They were neighbours and friends of mine," he said.
"James was a gentleman and was very well-known locally, as was his wife who sang in the church choir. They were pillars of society, the Wylies, and it's just unfortunate good people like that have to pass on.
"They were very family-orientated, just good, decent people. It's so sad for the family."
A death notice in the Belfast Telegraph read: "Never from the hearts that loved you will your memories fade."