Medinah couple married 71 years die within minutes of each other

Made for each other.

No phrase better describes longtime Medinah residents Bob and Ruth Kretschmer, who died within minutes of each other Friday, five days after they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.

Ruth Kretschmer, a onetime Republican politician who chaired the DuPage County Board's zoning committee and served 20 years on the Illinois Commerce Commission, had been in hospice for two years, said the couple's daughter Roberta “Bobbi” Boston. Bob Kretschmer, a World War II veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, she said.

“They both wanted to die in this house and if my father went first, that wasn't going to happen for my mother,” said Boston, her voice breaking. “He hung in there for her. After she passed away, he asked why everyone was crying, then he passed away.

“They worked it out between them, through the grace of God,” Boston said.

“The arc of their two lives, terminating as they did within 15 minutes, meant they were meant for each other in this life and the next,” said Bobbi's husband Roy Boston, who was introduced to his wife by his late mother-in-law.

Few couples embody the “opposites attract” maxim better than the Kretschmers.

According to her daughter, Ruth Kretschmer was serious, proper, highly intellectual, an accomplished speaker and an avid reader. The Elmhurst native earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University while in her fifties, attended classes at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and worked until age 81. An expert in regulatory matters, she was known as a serious, hardworking, fair-minded politician, Bobbi Boston said.

Addison Township Republican Chairman Pat Durante said Saturday it was quite a shock to hear about the death of Kretschmer and her husband. Ruth Kretschmer was dependable and willing to help the Republican Party whenever called on, said Durante who met her in 1965.

“She was always pleasant, kind and considerate,” he said.

Bob Kretschmer was the more fun-loving of the two, said Bobbi Boston who described her dad as the “life of the party.”

After lying about his age to enlist in the Army, Kretschmer “fought his way across Europe from Normandy to the Czech Republic,” wrote Roy Boston in his father-in-law's obituary. Kretschmer wasn't much for following rules, she said. Roy Boston recalled his father-in-law joking that he couldn't count how many times he had been busted from sergeant to private.

After the war, the “jack-of-all-trades” worked for the railroad and a plastics company. A carpenter, Kretschmer built many houses, including theirs, and later served as a deputy with the DuPage County Sheriff's Department, Roy Boston said. An avid golfer, Kretschmer played in a league through 2016 and played up until spring of this year, his daughter said.

Both enjoyed good food, which for Ruth meant any dessert with whipped cream, but had different ideas about what made up a healthy lifestyle.

Ruth ate right, took vitamins and exercised, said Roy Boston. Bob started smoking at age 13, said Boston, who also recalled his salt-loving father-in-law slathering a doughnut in butter and “salting it until it glistened.”

“He even put salt in his beer,” Roy Boston said.

But the Bostons say those differences made for a happy marriage rooted in their love for their family; passion for travel; affection for animals — including the Irish setters, rooster, horse, goat and raccoon who shared their home — and their enduring love for each other.

In addition to Bobbie and Roy Boston, survivors include the couple's daughter Ruth Koenig and her husband Paul, and son David Kretschmer and his wife, Maria, along with 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

The visitation is from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at Salerno's Rosedale Chapel, 450 W. Lake St., Roselle. The funeral is at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 405 S. Rush St., Roselle.

• Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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