Greencastle couple was devoted in life and beyond

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Jake and Ruby Shindle celebrated 50 years of marriage in 1995.

— By NICOLE FEDELI-TURIANO, Home Nursing Agency Hospice Team

Special to the Echo Pilot

Every marriage has its own shape, style and tone. And on Valentine's Day this year, a Greencastle family mourned the loss of a couple whose marriage was defined by a quiet camaraderie.  For 62 years, the late Jake, 90, and the late Ruby Shindle, 84, were never apart for very long. Known for their constant companionship among their family members, the Greencastle couple had experienced some medical difficulties over the last year and when Ruby died Jan. 21, her husband Jake — as in life — was not separated from her for very long. While getting ready for Ruby's funeral on Jan. 25, he died. It was a sudden, but peaceful death and like Ruby, Jake died at the home of his son and daughter-in-law just 300 yards from the Shindle's homestead of 60 years.

“We'd often say to one another in jest, “If gram dies first, it won't be long before pap dies or vice versa,” said daughter-in-law, Kathy Shindle. Earlier this year, the American Heart Association supported recent studies confirming how the emotional pain of losing a loved one can take a toll on spouses, children or loved ones. Today, the Shindle family acknowledges merit to these findings.

Last fall, the family, after consulting with their physician, chose Home Nursing Agency Hospice to help provide comfort and care to manage the symptoms resulting from Ruby's advanced stage dementia and Jakes's end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The hospice philosophy emphasizes comfort and addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient and family. Hospice also emphasizes quality of life and neither hastens or postpones death. Hospice affirms life. The care provided by the agency's hospice team included specially-trained registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, a hospice home health aide and a social worker. The Shindles also opted for visits from the agency's spiritual counselor, Pastor Bill Kauffman, who would often sing hymns such as “How Great Thou Art”, one of Jake's favorites.

“Although Jake's medical condition was more severe than Ruby's, we knew he fought to overcome his illness and symptoms to care for her,” said Kathy. “He didn't want to leave her side.”

The Shindles are survived by two sons, Randy (husband of Kathy) and Denny (husband of Sharon), seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. “You never saw them apart, especially after retirement,” said Kathy. “They were always on the go and always together even as their daily routines slowed down. Thankfully, they could remain at home with each other until the end. There's no place like home and that's where they wanted to be, surrounded by their family.”

Retired from PennDOT, where Jake worked as a foreman on Interstate-81, he's described as a very good storyteller, and Ruby retired as a weaver from the Stanley Company. She was a devoted wife and homemaker on the family's 63-acre farm as well.

Understandably, Kathy and her family admit how difficult it was to see Jake mourn the loss of Ruby, and knew that he purposely avoided re-entering the bedroom where she once rested and where they would often watch television, hold hands, and share thoughtful glances.

“He was with her through it all,” said Kathy. Jake's efforts didn't let up after she died. With blouses and clothes hung throughout the bedroom one evening, Jake insisted on knowing all of his options and was very deliberate in his selection on how Ruby would look at her viewing/memorial service. “She looks so nice in red,” Jake would comment. And since Ruby wore red often, Jake selected a beautiful ruby red blouse.

During the process, the family acknowledged his heartbreak and would often console Jake. “We told him that this will be the hardest thing he'll ever have to do,” Kathy said.  

The next day, she vividly recalled a moment during Ruby's viewing as Jake peered down at his wife and whispered, “How great thou art.”

The Shindles married in 1945.