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Couple separated during the pandemic reunites at Troy nursing home

The nursing home was around the corner from Jean and Walter's house, so Walter would go visit every day, but the pandemic, and a lock down at the nursing home, pulled them apart. (WRGB PROVIDED)
The nursing home was around the corner from Jean and Walter's house, so Walter would go visit every day, but the pandemic, and a lock down at the nursing home, pulled them apart. (WRGB PROVIDED)

TROY, N.Y. (WRGB) - Jean and Walter Willard are now back in each others arms, after months apart during the pandemic.

The couple has been married for 70 years and are nearly inseparable. They were married before they turned 20 years old. Walter was the regional manager of Jamesway stores. And they opened the Willard Steer House Station restaurants in Troy, Cohoes, and Clifton Park. Jean is now 89 and Walter is 91.

CBS 6 spoke with their daughters Wendy Willard and Wanda Glenn. They said their parents were always in good health, until last year. Jean fell and broke her pelvis, which landed her in the Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center in Troy. She also showed signs of dementia.

The nursing home was around the corner from Jean and Walter's house, so Walter would go visit every day.

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"My dad would go over there every day and spend most of every day, in the beginning he was there all day from the morning until night when she went to bed," Wendy Willard said.

But the pandemic, and a lock down at the nursing home, pulled them apart. Walter was no longer able to visit. His daughters said Jean would cry and ask for him.

"Then the virus happened and he couldn't go anymore, and he went downhill so quickly when he couldn't see her," Wendy added.

During the pandemic, Walter fell which caused a brain bleed. He had surgery at Albany Medical Center and went to rehabilitation facilities. But his family knew they had to reunite their parents.

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But pandemic protocols prohibited Walter from moving into Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center.

The admissions person said 'we have COVID cases, we can't let any one in.'

So she wrote a letter to the facility's director, and he had a change of heart.

"I told him what we were afraid of, we're afraid we're going to lose one of them and they're never going to have seen each other again, and I asked 'is there anything you can do? We're willing to take the risk, my dad is willing to take the risk.'" Wendy said. "He immediately called me and said absolutely we want to do this for you!"

Wanda said she cried all afternoon when she got the news, and Wendy was relieved after working so hard to make the move happen. They are very grateful to the staff.

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Last Thursday, the staff sent the family a video of the couple reuniting. They held hands, cried, hugged and kissed. "Oh honey I'm so happy to see you!" Jean said to Walter.

The two now share a room at the nursing home, and the children can't wait to visit them.