“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our soul and brings peace to our minds”-Nicholas Sparks
Everyone hopes to find love; the kind of love that lasts forever and isn’t caught up in the physical, worried about who’s gaining what. The kind where you are totally free to be yourself and time together is nothing but a gift. For many lucky people, meeting the love of your life happens at an early age, like Leonard and Hazel Cherry. Their love story began more than 70 years ago when the lovebirds met in high school. Although the two lived in adjacent towns, fate brought them together and soon they were new friends. Quickly their love blossomed and it became clear to all their friends and family that they were going to be inseparable.
22. The Beginning
Everyone who knew the couple said they were madly in love and the connection they had was inspirational. Young and in love, the couple wed in 1942 and vowed to care and love for one another until death does them part, something they learned the meaning of years later. They spent every moment they could together for nearly 70 years, becoming the true definition of life partners. They weren’t your average couple, and maybe that’s why they lasted…
21. Together As One
Leonard and Hazel knew that they didn’t want to be focused on their individual successes and growth, but they wanted to make sure they had a secure bond that led to them growing together, not apart. They spent nearly every minute together when life allowed it and made sure to always communicate and uplift each other. They were also very realistic, knowing that marriage is hard work they agreed to make it their first priority. They both knew time was limited on this Earth so they wanted to make the most of each moment of the wonderful life they built together.
When I say they spent every moment together when they could, I meant it. The only time they were apart was when they were forced to be during WWII. Leonard joined the Army Air Corps to fight for his country, and they didn’t know if they would ever see each other again, both praying he would make it home safe. Like many families during the time, they had to make huge sacrifices for their country, and they had to come to terms with the fact his life was at risk.
19. Bomber Pilot
The brave soldier was a bomber pilot during most of the war, one of the most dangerous positions to hold. He also helped train many young pilots because of his high skill level and ability to communicate with others. He was truly a brave and kind man during his efforts to defend his country and at home with his family. Hazel did her part and waiting for her husband, keeping the life together at home while he traveled the world to many different bases.
18. Air Force
Before he was able to return home, Leonard called many bases home, for a long time. He was apart of the United States Army Air Corps, which was apart of the Air Forces until 1947. After that, the United States Air Force was established. For a substantial portion of his military career, Leonard was stationed at Carswell Army Air Corps Base in Fort Worth where he was an active B-24 Bomber Pilot. The base is now on reserve, but many Navy headquarters are located there.
17. End Of The War
After the war ended in April 1945, many soldiers rejoiced as their time in action was now over and that meant it was time to go home; but for Leonard, that wasn’t the case. Although Nazi Germany had been defeated, he was being trained to fly a B-29 Bomber to help invade Japan, in hopes to demolish the Japanese war industry. Before he could be deployed, however, the treaties had been signed and the War was officially brought to an end and he FINALLY got to return home.
16. Their Son, David
Upon returning home, the happy couple decided, like MANY couples during that time, it was time to start a family. It seemed natural and exactly the right time, so they made some baby boomers! The easy going couple adored children so it was easy for them to become parents and it also helped them reconnect after so much time apart. Soon after, their baby boy David entered their lives.
15. Fort Worth, Texas
The family decided it was time for a change so they packed little David up and moved to Fort Worth, Texas. They knew they didn’t want to spend any more time apart, so they had to come up with some way to financially support themselves while still being able to raise their child together. Soon, they had a perfect idea! They were going to start a family business. What kind? They weren’t quite sure…
14. Cherry Hill
Leonard has many skills, as the Army had trained him to do many jobs. He knew he wanted to worth with his hands and the best option was to utilize all of the skills he learned while working with machinery in the army. They decided to open up an auto repair shop by the name of Cherry Hill. The business was incredibly successful–more successful than anyone thought possible…
The secret to their success was the couple themselves. Leonard worked with the cars and was the hands, and hazel worked the books and was the face, interacting with customers. The pair meshed so well together, the business flourished and in no time everyone in town was a customer of Cherry Hill. The business lasted for years and supported the couple and their family, but in 1980 they closed shop and began a new journey. Although, something wasn’t quite right…
12. Woodway, Texas
As time passed the couple didn’t have the business to keep them busy, so they decided it was time to relocate somewhere a little quieter and closer to their son, the town of Woodway, Texas. Their son David grew up and began a family of his own, making his parents grandparents. The loving grandparents were enjoying this new stage of life and they were committed to family time more than ever before.
11. Family Time
David’s family seeing how important Leonardo was to Hazel and her to him, inspired them to spend as much quality family time together as possible. Everyone knew these two were the perfect example of a close and loving relationship, and their love blossomed around everyone they met. They settled down in the tiny town and grew to love their comfortable life with family and friends.
10. Busy Bee’s
They didn’t just sit around the house however, the couple was very active in their community. Leonard, a religious man, held pride in his position as chair of the Board of Deacons at North Ft. Worth Baptist Church, where he resumed his role as the teacher but this time for Sunday school. In his free time, he loved to make furniture and play golf with his son.
9. Never Faught
In 2016, son David was interviewed by People Magazine and when asked about his parent’s relationship he said,“They never really spent a day apart unless it was for a family emergency or something. And I never heard a cross word between them. I never heard them raise their voices to each other unless they were calling across the yard. They didn’t fight!” Proving that although many believe the perfect couple doesn’t exist, these two come pretty dang close.
The couple loved their grandchildren and they loved them right back! Leonard never missed a basketball game and he loved to show up at practice, too. The couple adored those kids and they made sure they knew. It’s no surprise such good parents made wonderful grandparents. David told People,“The kids just adored my parents, they had such a special relationship, they were so close and came to all of their school events”. But then, out of nowhere, came the unexpected…
The entire Cherry family was devastated when Leonard was diagnosed with Dementia. Now, Dementia is a general term for brain disorders that present a variety of symptoms that interfere with social interactions and even everyday life, mainly suffering from memory loss. Depending on how severe the case is, it can affect short and long-term memory. Hazel, being the loving and devoted wife that she is, kept a brave face through the hardest situation they’ve ever dealt with. She knew that she had to make the best of a horrific situation…
Luckily, although his memory was fading, Leonards consciousness was intact, giving Hazel all the hope she needed. Although the disease is associated with old age, only around 10% of people develop some form of it throughout their lives, so it’s easy to feel unlucky when a loved one is diagnosed. Globally, the numbers seem WAY higher, affecting nearly 46 million people. Living with, and caring for someone with dementia is hard, exhausting, heart-breaking at times, and it requires some serious life adjustments. Many patients often lose the ability to care for themselves, as the disease progresses with age. The best way to prevent any injury due to confusion and rapid or sudden movements is to live somewhere that is disability accessible. This can mean some serious changes that a lot of people have trouble with…
5. Help Was Needed
Hazel, although aging gracefully, was no longer able to keep up with the care Leonardo needed, so he had to move to a care facility in Waco, Texas. Hazel was having a hard time dealing with her husbands declining health and she couldn’t live with the idea of them not seeing each other every day. She felt helpless and the only way she knew how to take control of the situation was to make sure that happened; that every day the soul makes would see each other.
4. Visiting Everyday
Hazel was extremely invested in Leonardo’s care and went to every doctor’s appointment with him and actively asked them questions, learning as much as she could about his situation. She felt the desire to take the situation into her own hands and although she had to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t going to get better, she decided it was time for a plan of action. She was determined to live with her husband again and wouldn’t stop until she got what she deserved.
3. Moving In
After talking to the right people, she was able to swindle her way into an independent living facility in the same building. This allowed her to be with Leonardo day and night, making it way easier on the couple. She was able to do the little things she still could for him, and she felt like she could get used to this new home. Although it wasn’t the same as before, it was better than being apart. Throughout his illness Hazel held his hand and whispered wise words of strength, never leaving his side.
2. Unexpected Loss
Suddenly, in October of 2016, Hazel unexpectedly passed away at the age of 93. The family was devastated and shocked because although she was aging, she seemed to be in perfect health. One day, she seemed tired and didn’t want to get out of bed, which was unusual for her. David’s daughter was speaking with her grandmother when all of a sudden she smiled, let go of her hand and was gone.
Leonard wasn’t informed of what happened but his caretaker remembers vividly how restless and upset he was when all of a sudden he became calm and took his last breath. The family is convinced he knew and they both left Earth and joined each other for their next journey, refusing to live without each other. Hazel and Leonard’s story is a true love story, one that will inspire for many years to come.