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'Foundation of our family': Bismarck couple married 70 years die days apart from COVID-19

'Foundation of our family': Bismarck couple married 70 years die days apart from COVID-19

Walter and Lorraine Morlock

Walter Morlock, right, and Lorraine Morlock, left, are seen in a provided photo. Married for 70 years, the couple held each other's hands in the Sanford Health COVID-19 unit, and died days apart from one another.

Walter and Lorraine Morlock loved to go to church, travel together and go camping.

He was a sheet metal worker, an avid Minnesota Twins baseball fan, and a collector of coins and North Dakota centennial pins. She loved to sew and create things from fabric, and watch high school basketball games. The Bismarck Demons were her favorite team.

The lifelong North Dakota couple held each other's hands in the Sanford Health COVID-19 unit, and died days apart from one another.

"They knew they were beside each other," daughter Kathy Roth said.

Lorraine died Dec. 8 at age 89. Walter died Dec. 13 at age 92.

They were married for 70 years.

"They were the foundation of our family," Roth said.

Walter grew up in Pettibone. Lorraine came from nearby Tuttle. They met at a dance where he was playing accordion in a band.

They loved living in Bismarck and attending Zion Lutheran Church. Pastor Tom Marcis said the couple regularly attended worship and Bible classes before they became more homebound and he would visit them monthly.

He knew the Morlocks more than 31 years, his entire time serving the church. He helped them grieve the loss of their son, Fred. Their faith was very serious for them, Marcis said.

"It was very meaningful for them when we were able to see them on a monthly basis, have a devotion and bring them the Lord's Supper because they very much missed the community of being in Bible class and being in worship with the rest of the congregation," he said.

Roth said they were good parents who "taught me to be a good, kind, honest person."

"We always felt safe. We never had to worry about food or clothing. They were both very thrifty," she said. "They both come from sturdy German stock; incredibly hardworking people."

They loved babies, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Two years ago, their family celebrated Walter's 90th birthday with food, relatives and a photo booth. 

"Mom and Dad loved it," Roth said.

The coronavirus pandemic prevented the family from celebrating the couple's 70th wedding anniversary.

The Morlocks were living in a nursing home when Lorraine tested positive for the virus on Nov. 25. Four days later, Walter did, too.

Roth said they might have contracted the coronavirus from an employee or another resident, but whatever the case, "there is no blame."

"Bad things happen in this world, and (COVID-19 is) very contagious," she said.

Her parents were hospitalized when they became quite ill. Roth said medical staff pushed their beds side by side in the COVID-19 unit so they could be together. 

Roth and her sister were able to be with their mom and dad and told them how much they loved them and what great parents they were.

"Seeing them side by side and seeing their coffins side by side at the internment, it gave us comfort knowing they were together again," Roth said. "I think they would have liked it. We didn't like that they were gone, but I think they would like that they were together at the end."

Their family held a viewing and an internment for them, which Roth, who lives in Iowa, watched on video while quarantining after being with her parents. A funeral will be held at a later date to celebrate the Morlocks' lives.

Since their deaths, Roth keeps her parents' memories close.

"They're in my heart," she said. "They're always in my heart. And I guess I would say treasure the ones you love now because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or

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Capitol Reporter

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