QUITMAN, Ga. (WCTV) - A Brooks County couple married for 61 years will be laid to rest Saturday after they died from COVID-19 on the same day.
After nearly a lifetime together, William James and Jeanette Davis Gloster were inseparable, even until death.
The Glosters’ only child, Antoinette “Shawn” Linder, and her husband, Stacy, shared their story with on Wednesday.
William, 97, and Jeanette, 94, met in their thirties, Shawn said, when William walked by Jeanette every day as she stood on her front porch.
The two married on January 2, 1960, swearing until death do them part.
At the time, William worked for the Brooks County Road Department and, according to family members, took pride in local roads he helped build, especially Shiver Road, adjacent to his last residence.
Jeanette worked more than 40 years at Quitman Laundry.
After retiring in 1988, William took up farming.
“They were such great people, and they spreaded their love,” Stacy said. “And it makes you kinda want to continue their tradition.”
The two were admired by many in the community, some saying they stood side-by-side as a symbol of true love.
“Mr. and Mrs. William and Jeanette Gloster have been icons in our community for all of our lives,” Stevens-McGhee funeral home director Delphanie McGhee said. “We’ve watched them just love each other and show love to each other and show the community that love is something powerful.”
Her sister and co-director, Ashley McGhee-Christian, also praised their bond.
“They were a very cute couple that gave younger couples something to aspire to be one day,” she said.
When Jeanette developed worsening dementia, family and doctors insisted she move down the road to the Presbyterian Home and Retirement Community in November 2019.
“He said, ‘Well, if she goes, then I’m going to’. That’s what he told us,” Shawn said. “And we could not believe that because Daddy is so independent.”
The Glosters both contracted COVID-19 inside the facility. William’s condition progressed quicker, and he was transported to the last available bed at Archbold Memorial Hospital on December 28, Shawn says.
Jeanette was transported the next day to South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta.
“Every day, I was calling back-and-forth,” Shawn said. “And neither of them knew that the other one was sick, you know. I couldn’t tell neither one of them...So I kept saying, ‘Daddy, your wife is okay. Momma is okay, Daddy.’”
On January 2, William and Jeanette spent their 61st anniversary, their first apart, Shawn says, both fighting for their lives.
Shawn received a call on Jan. 5 at 5:38 a.m. with news that William died. She received another call about 16 hours later notifying her Jeanette died.
“This is just a true love story, and they were not willing to be without each other,” Ashley said.
They were together from their thirties to their nineties, but community members say a lasting legacy was built during their time in between.
“I feel as though when they became a couple, their two hearts became one, and so their existence became one as well,” Delphanie said.
Ashley and her sister Delphanie are handling the Glosters’ funeral arrangements, along with their father and business owner Jim McGhee, Senior.
“I just thank God for being able to witness them because they was a pillar of this community,” he said. “They’re gonna really be missed.”
The Glosters will lay to rest in matching caskets with two linked hearts and the words, ‘Together Forever’ embroidered inside.
“I can’t see her here without William,” Shawn said. “So, when I feel sad I just keep thinking about, they’re together.”
Public viewing will take place Friday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Stevens-McGhee Funeral Home in Quitman.
The double ceremony will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. on the lawn of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Quitman and live-streamed online.
Burial will follow at the North End Cemetery.