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N.Y. man who died on way to late wife's memorial buried beside her

Gwen and Norman Hendrickson pose for a photograph in their backyard in Cambridge, New York, in this undated family handout photo. REUTERS/No
Gwen and Norman Hendrickson pose for a photograph in their backyard in Cambridge, New York, in this undated family handout photo. REUTERS/No

By Anna Hiatt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An upstate New York man who died on the way to his late wife's wake was buried in a plot beside her on Wednesday, after a dual funeral service that capped a 66-year marriage, their daughter said on Thursday.

Norman Hendrickson, 94, a retired assistant postmaster in an Albany suburb, stopped breathing in the limousine on the way to a wake on Saturday for his late wife Gwen, who died earlier this month after suffering for years from Parkinson's Disease, daughter Norma said.

Funeral home staffers laid Hendrickson in a casket and placed him beside an urn containing his wife's remains in a viewing room, while daughter Merrilyne posted a light-hearted sign for arriving mourners:

"Surprise - it's a Double-Header - Norman and Gwen Hendrickson - February 16, 2013."

Norma Hendrickson said her parents were buried side by side in the same plot on Wednesday, along with some of the ashes of their late son, who died in 2008, and a watercolor painting her sister Merrilyne had made for them.

Funeral director Elizabeth Nichols-Ross, a family friend, said the couple laughed a lot and would have enjoyed the irony of the situation - especially Norman, who loved jokes.

"I don't blush easily, but he told ones that made you blush," she said.

She joked with the family that their father, who was known to be thrifty, would have loved to save the costs of a second funeral, so she didn't charge the family for two services.

Mourners took the surprise in stride, Nichols-Ross said.

"Oh, that doesn't surprise me," she quoted one mourner as saying. "He wanted to be with Gwen.'"

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)

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