Vancouver couple married for 49 years die from COVID-19 just hours apart

Click to play video: 'Married Vancouver couple both die from COVID-19 within hours of each other'
Married Vancouver couple both die from COVID-19 within hours of each other
WATCH: We're learning more about an older couple in Vancouver who both died from COVID-19 within a few hours of each other. – Jan 13, 2021

A Vancouver couple who were married for 49 years both died from COVID-19 in early December.

Stanley Alfred Clifford and Leona Clifford passed away just nine hours apart.

“They were such loving, kind, energetic, very selfless and giving people,” their granddaughter Leila Ang told Global News.

Stanley, who was born in Vancouver on Aug. 15, 1929, was 91 years old. Leona was born in Leroy Saskatchewan on Aug. 3, 1930 — she was 90 when she passed away.

The couple were married on Nov. 5, 1971, and were dedicated members of the Collingwood Baptist Church. Between them, they had three children, seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

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Leona and Stanley Clifford with two of their great-grandchildren.

Ang said her grandpa moved into a care home first, after being diagnosed with leukemia. Her grandmother was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was moved into her husband’s room at the care home just over a year ago.

They both contracted COVID-19 about a week before they passed away, Ang said.

Click to play video: 'Questions arise about releasing data for B.C. long-term care facility Little Mountain Place'
Questions arise about releasing data for B.C. long-term care facility Little Mountain Place

“My grandpa was confirmed first and then shortly after my grandma was confirmed — she had it as well.”

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Ang said over the week it seemed like they would get better and then get worse again. Stanley passed away on Dec. 8, followed by Leona on Dec. 9.

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“I can’t believe it was within nine hours of each other, it’s pretty incredible,” Ang added.

Read more: B.C. family demands better oversight of care homes after COVID-19 outbreak kills 41 residents

Ang said due to the pandemic, only one family member was cleared to visit so she had not seen her grandparents in person for months and it was hard because she’s not sure if her grandparents really understood what was going on.

“[It was] so difficult. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people in the same situation and you only hope that people are taking this seriously and they are doing their part and not contributing to spreading it further, especially when people are so vulnerable like this.”

When it comes to remembering her grandparents, Ang said she remembers most how generous they were, particularly when it came to their time.

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“They gave so much of their time and their love to their family and their community and their church.

“And they are missed so much already.”

Read more: Get rapid tests into care homes now, says B.C. seniors’ advocate

The B.C. government said last week it will once again be reporting the number of COVID-19 cases at individual care homes and assisted-living facilities.

In the fall, the province stopped the practice of notifying the public on how many cases of the virus had been detected in each care home. Instead, the province provided the overall number of cases linked to both residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

The initial reporting from the province shows 602 residents have died from COVID-19 in assisted living and long term care.

Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said as the number of cases in long-term outbreaks grew, health officials had to supply aggregate numbers on long-term care outbreaks on a daily basis and then periodically provide more detailed statistics.

“It’s not a policy change,” Henry said last week. “It was merely trying to keep up with the amount of data that we were trying to collect.”

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Leona and Clifford Stanley. Photo submitted by family.
Leona Clifford with one of her great-grandchildren. Photo submitted by family.

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