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Couple married for 57 years died side-by-side during Tennessee tornadoes

Posted at 11:22 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 13:23:53-05

Jim and Donna Eaton had been by each others' sides for nearly six decades. Fifty-seven years after the couple made a vowed to be together "til death do us part," they died next to each other.

Jim, 84, and 81-year-old Donna died side-by-side on Tuesday when a tornado ripped through Tennessee.

CBS News affiliate WTVF has confirmed the Eatons are two of the 24 victims killed during the tornadoes. The couple died on a mattress together when it was thrown from their bed, according to the Tennessean.

They were "about as close as you can get," Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler told the local publication.

The tornado leveled their home in Wilson County, Tennessee, just one day before what would have bene Jim's 85th birthday.

"The best earthly example of what a marriage should look like," their 24-year-old grandson Jake Hardy-Moore told the Tennessean. "They showed Christ's love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life." CBS News has reached out to the Mt. Juliet Police Department and the Eaton family for more information on the couple.

According to an obituary written for the pair, they are survived by three children, four grand children and nine great-grand children. They moved to Mt. Juliet in 1977, joining First Baptist Church, according to the obituary posted by the Woodlaw-Roesch-Patton Funeral home.

For 43 years, they both taught many Sunday school classes and Jim served as a deacon. "They were a true example of God's love in their family, their marriage, the community of Mt. Juliet, and beyond," the obituary reads. "They were humble, kind and lived life fully. Whether they were on their daily walks, cheering on the Cincinnati Reds, Bunko or card night, church fellowship or supporting their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren through any activity they exemplified the love of God."

Services for the couple will be held on Friday and Saturday. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to First Baptist Church "to help with cleanup and restoration from the tornado," according to the obituary.

The tornadoes destroyed at least 48 buildings and left about 50,000 customers without power, according to officials. They caused significant damage because of their strength.

The National Weather Service estimated that a tornado that hit the city Mount Juliet and Donelson, Tennessee, was "at least" an EF-3, which indicates a "severe" tornado caused by 136 to 165 mile an hour winds.