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Ed and Floreen Hale’s love story goes world-wide

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2014 at 12:00 am

“It’s what we all want and dream of, to have 60 years of committed love.” – TV producer for German television station

Photos by Tom Rivers – Ed and Floreen Hale’s son Ricky Hale and Floreen’s sister Marleen DeCarlo of Albion hold a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Hale on their 50th anniversary.

It’s been a whirlwind week for the family of Ed and Floreen Hale. News media from around the world have published articles and photos about the Hales’ 60-year marriage and their death a day apart.

This afternoon a television crew interviewed them in Batavia. That story will be published in Germany and several European countries.

The couple’s daughter Renee Hirsch says it is a privilege to share the story about her parents. But Hirsch and her family didn’t expect an article that first appeared in the Orleans Hub a week ago to become a world-wide phenomenon.

“We’ve been blown away by it,” she said this afternoon during a filming break.

Producers for RTL, a German television station, interview Renee Hirsch today in her parents’ home. Hirsch, the daughter of Ed and Floreen Hale of Batavia, holds some of her mother’s collectibles. Mrs. Hale loved the color red.

After appearing on the Orleans Hub, the article was on The Batavian. On Monday, WGRZ in Buffalo did a story. It quickly caught on with The Daily Mail in London doing a story that had 61,000 shares on the site, and more than 500 comments.

“This has been a big story in the UK,” said the TV producer for the German news organization RTL. “It resonates beyond religion and countries. It goes beyond culture. It’s what we all wish and dream for, to have 60 years of committed love and to die together naturally.”

The TV producer asked not to give her name, saying she preferred to be in the background for her features.

“Women dream of men who will love and cherish us, who will clean the car off for us,” she said. “This is very much a global story.”

She was joined in Batavia by Srdjan Stojiljkovic, a videographer. He said Mr. Hale’s devotion to his wife, including in their final days, has touched many hearts around the world.

“It’s beautiful,” Stojiljkovic said.

Orleans Hub has shared photos of the Hales with The Daily Mail, The New York Daily News, and other news organizations in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Germany and Brazil. Most organizations that published the story used the photos without asking permission.

Traffic from the story crashed our server on Friday. We made an upgrade after being offline for a several hours.

The articles have detailed the Batavia couple’s 60 years of marriage and their death a day apart of natural causes while in the same hospital home. The couple had two children, Renee Hirsch and Ricky Hale of East Bethany.

Mrs. Hale loved to have family over in her Batavia home designed by her husband, who was an engineer. Mrs. Hale decorated many of the rooms in red, her favorite color. She had a lot of spunk, said her sister Marleen DeCarlo of Albion.

“We witnessed every day the love they had for each other,” DeCarlo said today.

Provided photo – Floreen and Edward Hale married in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion on May 12, 1953.

“When you walked into their house you didn’t want to leave because of the warmth inside.”

Mr. Hale delighted in bringing his wife gifts and treats. He made sure the car was warmed up and brushed off during the winter. He never had an angry response, said the couple’s son, Ricky Hale.

“He was mild mannered with a lot of patience,” Hale said today. He is stunned by the world-wide intrigue in his parents.

Mr. Hale, 83, was at a different hospital 35 miles away in Rochester before his health rebounded enough for him to travel by ambulance to join his wife in Batavia at United Memorial Medical Center on Feb. 6. He was at Unity Hospital so he could get his dialysis treatments.

Mrs. Hale, an Albion native, lost her first husband in a car accident after they were married for only three months. She told Mr. Hale he could not leave her, ever. She didn’t want to live without him.

Mr. Hale was near death at Unity Hospital in early February. He had been mumbling and seemed incoherent. But at 4 in the morning on Feb. 6 he declared he needed to see his wife. His family, officials from the two hospitals and two hospice organizations, all worked to get Mr. Hale to see his wife, who was also clinging to life in Batavia at United Memorial Medical Center. He was cleared for the trip and was taken by Monroe Ambulance.

He joined his wife in the hospital room where 20 to 30 family members surrounded them. It was a blessing for the family to be together, and not splitting time at two bedside vigils.

Provided photo – Ed Hale and his wife Floreen comfort each other after being reunited at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia on Feb. 6.

The couple held hands while they lay dying. The family shared a picture of the Mr. and Mrs. Hale in the hospital room. The picture has brought many people to tears around the world, according to comments posted on the news sites.

“They died holding hands,” DeCarlo said. “Everyone says that they have been touched by the story.”

The family initially reached out to the Orleans Hub, wanting to publicly thank the hospitals, two hospice organizations, an ambulance squad and a social worker who helped the Hales to be together in the their final days.

But the story became much more than that.

“We knew it was a magical moment and we wanted to share it,” said DeCarlo’s daughter Lisa Giattino of Albion.

The family recalled words by Mr. Hale on Feb. 2, the day of the Super Bowl. Mr. Hale had been incoherent and heavily medicated. At one point he told his family, “I’m going to be in headlines.”