A wife has died of a "broken heart" just three days after her husband of 59 years passed away.
Taupō couple Denzil Lovell, 84, and Hazel Lovell, 78, were farewelled in a joint funeral service on Friday.
Their only child Sharon How is now planning to scatter their ashes at Tauranga where they both grew up – and perhaps from the Eiffel Tower in Paris where her mother always dreamed of visiting.
"We'd like to think mum died of a broken heart. They just had a great understanding of one another, they were absolutely brilliant together," 56-year-old How told the Herald on Sunday yesterday.
The six decade romance began inauspiciously when cheeky delivery driver Denzil wolf-whistled as teenage telephone exchange operator Hazel wandered past. She "stuck her nose high in the air" and walked on by, so the family story goes.
But when they met again later at a local dance, they got chatting and it was love at first sight.
Hazel, then 18, needed parental permission to get engaged and they married on March 28, 1959.
Their honeymoon took them to a motel on the main drag of Mount Maunganui where, in the night, they both visited the outside toilets and were mortified to find themselves locked out of their room.
"They had lots of cute stories like that," said Sharon, who considered her mother like a best friend.
"They were old school and never went to bed on an argument, they would lie in bed and talk it out. But they hardly ever bickered, mainly because Mum was always right. Dad would say, 'Yes dear, you're correct... I'd agree with that'.
They moved to Taupo around 1961 and soon afterwards, Sharon came along.
She grew up in a household filled with love and laughter, she said, with her painter and decorator dad always delivering gags, and her mum being "useless with jokes, always stuffing up the punchlines, which made her even funnier".
They enjoyed holidaying around New Zealand, and although both were long-time smokers, were avid squash players and successful in local championships.
The day that Denzil was diagnosed with lung cancer, he stopped smoking.
But cancer dogged his final seven years, which paid its toll on both him and his adoring wife.
Denzil passed away in the late afternoon of December 20 as his family was preparing for Christmas together.
They then turned to planning his funeral, but three days later, after a BBQ and drive along Taupo's lakefront, Hazel passed away in the night.
"You could see relief on her after months of watching her loved one go to skin and bone," Sharon said.
Denzil and Hazel Lovell are survived by Sharon, four grandchildren, and a two-year-old great-granddaughter.