His minister came to see him that Monday.
Chuck Sales was in the hospital, his lungs weak from COVID, grieving his wife Anna, 69, who had been taken by the virus three days earlier.
“He was heartbroken over everything,” Messiah Lutheran Church Pastor John Kunze said. “He wanted to make sure there was going to be a beautiful service for Anna.”
The next day, Chuck, 88, died.
That was the first time Kunze had two caskets at the front of the church.
“The two of them were the most amazing, humble and kind couple you would ever meet.”
The pair married in 1988. Took trips all over the country in their Honda Odyssey, taking a trio of Anna’s siblings along to visit Chuck’s grown children and grandchildren.
They took cruises to places like Bermuda and Jamaica. Followed Elvis impersonator Joseph Hall from city to city to listen to him belt out The King’s classics.
They were a perfect fit, despite their age difference.
No one would guess Chuck was approaching 90, said his oldest son, Chuck Sales Jr.
His dad grew up in Chicago and moved to Lincoln when he joined the Air Force in the 1950s. The family returned to Chicago, but in 1965 came back to make Lincoln home. Chuck worked at National Crane — sang in the Birdcage Theater at the Children’s Zoo, competed in the Cornhusker State Games — and ran his own small business, filming weddings and depositions.
They both helped with videography at church, and were regular worshipers at the Sunday night service.
They loved bowling and traveled to national tournaments twice a year, always making time to stop and see family.
“No matter where the wind blew us, grandpa would be there to visit,” his granddaughter Brittany Drisdom wrote in an online memorial. “I’m so grateful to have warm memories of my grandpa and my Anna.”
Anna grew up the third of nine children in a Ukrainian family in Omaha. Her siblings were happy when she married Chuck.
“He was the sweetest person that ever lived,” said Anna’s oldest sibling, Maria Witjek. “They were really good with each other.”
Chuck’s family felt the same about Anna.
“Just a sweetheart of a lady,” Chuck Jr. said. “I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like Anna.”
Chuck and Anna were close to Chuck’s first wife, bringing her meals, inviting her to vacation with them.
Anna had spent her career at Li-Cor and retired a few years ago. She was the quieter half of the pair, their pastor said. Chuck was the guy with a big hug and a handshake.
The couple with wanderlust had taken a 10-day trip to the Carolinas in October and started to feel sick on the way home.
At their joint funeral, Kunze read from the book of John. Do not let your hearts be troubled …
Music played from the speakers, a recording of Hall, the Elvis impersonator, singing “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”
The pandemic kept most of Chuck’s far-flung family from traveling to Lincoln for the service.
But Chuck and Anna had plans to drive to Florida for a bowling tournament later this year, Chuck Jr. said.
“Without this disease, I think we’d be getting together with them.”
— Cindy Lange-Kubick