Six children orphaned after both parents die 24 hours apart

By Peter Holley

Jennifer Norsworthy with her husband Toby Norsworthy and their six children at Christmas 2010 (clockwise from top: Quinten, Riley, Bradley, Mickey, Aurora and Lainie). Photo / Facebook
Jennifer Norsworthy with her husband Toby Norsworthy and their six children at Christmas 2010 (clockwise from top: Quinten, Riley, Bradley, Mickey, Aurora and Lainie). Photo / Facebook

When Jennifer Norsworthy was unexpectedly killed by a blood clot on April 23, her family was devastated.

She was 40 years old, and she left behind six children and one devoted, grief-stricken husband, according to CBS affiliate WHNT.

"Toby loved Jennifer," Ricky Self, an associate pastor at the couple's church, told the station. "She was his world and so he was of course heartbroken when she passed away."

The grief was so traumatising for Toby Norsworthy, relatives suspect, that it ended up costing him his own life 24 hours later, when he died of a heart attack, according to the Huntsville, Alabama, Times.

Family members think the stress of his wife's death was ultimately too much for him to bear. Tragically, his sister said, the same doctor and nurse ended up working to save the lives of each parent at the hospital.

Norsworthy was 38.

"Toby was a very selfless person," Leslie Plunkett, a childhood friend told the paper. "He adored his wife and absolutely loved each and every one of the children.

"He always put community, friends, family and church first."

With Jennifer and Toby suddenly gone, family members have turned their attention to the couple's children, ages 6 to 20. They have travelled to the family's home in Harvest, Alabama, - just outside Huntsville - from as far away as Maine, California and Alaska, the Times reported.

"The three oldest -- Quinten, 20, Riley, 17, and Bradley, 13 - are from Jennifer's previous marriage, the paper reported. The three youngest are Mickey, 11, Aurora, 9, and Lainie, 6.

A GoFundMe page set up by Plunkett has already surpassed its US$5000 goal, raising more than US$25,000 in six days.

"They both had strong faiths in God, were vital members in their communities, and were such kind and gentle parents," a statement on the page says. "They will both be greatly missed by these communities, friends and family."

"I worked with Toby," Misti Cooper commented on the page. "Couldn't have asked for a better co-worker. He was a good friend and was the first in line to help others."

Tabitha Washburn, Toby Norsworthy's sister, told the Times that the couple met in Alaska 13 years ago and married three years later.

The family eventually settled in Huntsville and Toby took a job as a computer programer, the Times reported, while his wife devoted herself to raising their growing family.

They were active members of Pineview Baptist Church, in Harvest, Self said.

He told WHNT that the church is also accepting donations on behalf of the family.

"Trying to raise as much money as we possibly can for them for unexpected things that may come up, like college," Self said, according to WHNT. "They were such a big part of our life and part of our family and so we feel like it's our job to help in any way we possibly can financially, spiritually, whatever that may be."

He added: "Right now, it's painful and it hurts, but one day we will be able to see them again and that's what we're hanging our hats on."

Jennifer Norsworthy's Facebook page was largely devoted to those she loved.

In a Facebook photo of the couple posted by Norsworthy in October, she wrote: "A wonderful evening out with my hubby after a great day. ... could not love this man more!!! -- feeling blessed."

The profile included numerous photos of the family's kids and, in March, a shared post highlighting the story of a woman who had passed away from an illness at 40, but not before telling her husband that she had no regrets.

Her last public Facebook post was a happy photo of her eating lunch with her son.

"Birthday lunch with my big boy!!" she wrote.

- Washington Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 Sep 2016 17:08:31 Processing Time: 605ms