God Bless them both in the life to come.
Elderly couple trapped in house fire both die after granddad tells dispatch on the phone 'I'm not leaving my wife': Tearful son pays heartbreaking tribute to 'salt of the Earth' parents married for 63 years
Kenneth and Phyllis Zerr, both 84, of New Melle, Minnesota, (pictured in 2013) passed away around 1am on Thursday from a suspected electrical fire in their Tall Cedar Court home, where they lived for 18 years.
An elderly couple, who were married for 63 years, died in a house fire after the granddad told dispatchers that he would 'not leave my wife.'
Kenneth and Phyllis Zerr, both 84, of New Melle, Minnesota, passed away around 1am on Thursday from a suspected electrical fire in their Tall Cedar Court home, where they lived for 18 years.
New Melle Fire Protection District said the fire started on the bottom floor of the home, eventually working its way upstairs to the two bedrooms.
'My father said: "I'm not leaving my wife," and he stayed with her until the very end,' their son Andy (pictured) said
Kenneth reportedly shoved wet towels under the door and prayed the fire department would come shortly.
By the time firefighters pushed through the thick, black smoke, the couple had already died, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
'The house was full of smoke. They couldn’t see. Zero visibility,' Fire Chief Dan Casey told the Post-Dispatch.
Firefighters 'were feeling around the bed, under the bed, on top of the bed,' but as the floor gave out, they have to leave.'
'The floor started giving way so they had to back out. They made it out in the nick of time,' Casey said.
As emergency personnel arrived, they were unsure how many people were in the house, as their oldest daughter Brenda and her husband also lived in the house and dispatchers were unable to get much information from Kenneth.
Brenda and her husband were vacationing in Alabama when police contacted her after Kenneth hung up on dispatchers.
She immediately called Andy who rushed over, but by the time he had gotten there, firefighters informed him they had died of smoke inhalation.
The parents of three's home was always the center of family gatherings, where their children, six grandchildren, and dozen great-grandchildren enjoyed every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
'Everybody wanted to be like them and everybody wanted to be with them. My mom and dad were salt of the earth,' Andy told 5 On Your Side. 'They will be dearly missed. They were a pillar of the community. They were our rocks. They were our foundation. They were our wisdom.'
Kenneth, a retired IT services VP for Community Federal Bank, had just celebrated his 84th birthday on Tuesday and the couple celebrated 63 years of marriage in September.
Phyllis was a retired receptionist for Prairie Farms.
'They loved being together. They loved life.'
Andy remember traveling with his two sisters and parents when he was a child, spending three weeks exploring the southwest.
The couple were also devout Catholics and had a strong marriage.
'You wanted your marriage to be like theirs. Always there for each other. Thick and thin,' their granddaughter Ashley Kozlowski, 32, said.