After a 73-year marriage based on love and faith, Wanda and Jim Wold of Garner, Iowa, died hours apart last week. Family members say they’re comforted by knowing that God had a hand in the couple’s July 20 deaths.
Wanda Wold, 96, died early in the morning at Concord Care Center, where she had previously worked as a registered nurse. Hours later, Jim Wold, 94, died in the same nursing home, soon after learning that his wife had passed away.
Wanda and Jim Wold—‘God Was Up to Something’
In a Facebook post last Tuesday evening, Dan Engstler, one of the couple’s nine grandchildren, posted a tribute to his grandparents. “God was up to something today,” he writes, “calling them both to heaven 15 hours apart.”
Candy Engstler, Dan’s mother and one of the couple’s three children, describes receiving an early-morning call Tuesday, informing her of her mother’s death. When she and her sister went to the care center to comfort their father, she says, “He folded his hands with both of us on either side and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for taking her, and would you please take me.’”
That evening, Engslter received another call from the center, about the death of a second parent in one day. Despite her grief, she says she’s grateful that God “allowed them both to go on the same day.” Engslter adds, “I feel it was their time. The Lord called them, and he called them in a beautiful way, so I will just hang onto that.”
A Love Story ‘About God’s Love for Them’
A joint funeral for Jim and Wanda, who’d been married since May 1948, was held yesterday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Garner. Military rites also were conducted for Jim, who’d served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. According to Candy Engstler, her father faced several health challenges, and her mother had Alzheimer’s disease for years.
Tributes and condolences are pouring in, with many people focusing on the couple’s lengthy love story and same-day deaths. Their grandson Nicholas Thackery, a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor in Fort Dodge, Iowa, writes that while those things are “pretty amazing,” we should “remember that if this is a love story, it is about God’s love for them. … This is about God and the love that he gave to them, the forgiveness that he gave to them. Grandpa and Grandma showed that love to each other, our families, and their friends.”
During a recent visit, Thackery says he thanked his grandfather for his lifelong support. “He told me that he could not take the credit, for it was God at work in and through him,” the grateful grandson writes.
Thackery credits his grandparents with trying to always “instill in our families…the importance of Jesus, faith, and the hope of eternal life.” He invites everyone who’s moved by this story to “Join me in praising and giving thanks to God for the faith he gave [Jim and Wanda] to remind all of us how great a God we have. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”