‘I’m not leaving my wife’: Couple dies together in house fire

A house fire claimed the lives of an elderly married couple in Missouri on Thursday. (KSDK, FAMILY HANDOUT, CNN)
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 10:25 AM CST
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NEW MELLE, Mo. (KSDK) - A house fire claimed the lives of an elderly married couple in Missouri on Thursday.

Kenneth Zerr had a chance to escape but refused to leave his wife, Phyllis Zerr, behind.

“Everybody wanted to be like them. Everybody wanted to be with them,” their son, Andy Zerr, said.

Their marriage leaves a memorable mark.

“My mom and dad were salt of the earth. They will be dearly missed. They were a pillar of the community,” Andy Zerr said.

Andy Zerr held back tears as he described the relationship between his parents. The couple, both 84 years old, lost their lives inside their home together.

Fire officials say flames came up through the bottom floor and climbed up to the two upstairs bedrooms.

As crews made it upstairs to search, the floor began to collapse.

“The dispatch was on the phone with my father and my father was trying to help my mother out of the house and they got trapped,” Andy Zerr said.

But not even a fire could keep the couple apart.

“The dispatch told my father to come out of the house and my father said, ‘I’m not leaving my wife.’ And stayed with her. Until the end,” Andy Zerr said.

Andy Zerr is one of the couple’s three children. They also had several grandchildren and a host of other family and friends.

Andy Zerr said his parents were deeply rooted in their community and church.

“The pastor, bless his heart, brought communion to them every Sunday,” he said.

While it’ll be hard, they’ll lean on their incredible union to help them heal.

“They were our rocks. They were our foundation. They were our wisdom,” Andy Zerr said.

The couple had just celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in September.

The family said plans for the couple’s funeral are already set.