CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (ABC 4 News) - Norman Hendrickson fully planned to say goodbye to his late wife at a funeral service last weekend in New York state. But he never got the chance. Instead, shockingly, he became part of the memorial service.
The 94-year-old veteran of World War II died on Feb. 16, literally as he was traveling with family members to Gwen Hendrickson's funeral. In fact, Norman was reportedly just a few steps away from the funeral home when he died on the spot.
After the initial shock of Norman's sudden death wore down, family members said that it couldn't have happened better. They would memorialize the couple together.
"After we had a little time to process... we felt we couldn't have written a more perfect script," family member Norma Howland told a Glens Falls, N.Y. newspaper. "My sister said the only thing he didn't do well was fall into the casket."
Norman Hendrickson was riding inside of a limousine with other family members when he suddenly stopped breathing. Upon arrival at the funeral home, funeral director and medical examiner Jim Gariepy performed CPR on the 94-year-old man on the sidewalk in front of the funeral home. Family members quickly retrieved a "do not resuscitate" order from Hendrickson's home and paramedics stopped trying to revive him.
Family members quickly decided that the memorial service would be a "doubleheader" -- and had the man's body placed in a casket and wheeled to the viewing room. Mourners who arrived, expecting only to be remembering Gwen Hendrickson, instead were greeted by a hand-written note at the front door which read, "Surprise! It's a double-header. Gwen & Norman Hendrickson - Feb. 16, 2013."
The funeral home's owner, Elizabeth Nichols-Ross, joked that the notoriously frugal Hendrickson probably died intentionally so that he could get a two-for-one deal on the burials.
"If it had happened with somebody else like this, it would have been sad. But with Norm it wasn't," Nichols-Ross said. "It was just so much like Norm."