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'They were a team': MN couple, married 64 years, dies hours apart

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BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. - If heaven has a square dance party going on tonight, you can be sure a rural Breckenridge couple is there.

Family and friends are mourning the passing of Jim and Marlene Jirak.

Two deaths unexpected, just hours apart from each other.

Their love story spans 64 wonderful years.

"Our dad was a huge tractor collector," said Michelle Klosterman, Daughter.

Spread out across a table Tuesday are decades of memories of a dynamic duo.

The children of Jim and Marlene Jirak, sorting through a lifetime of snapshots.

Jim and Marlene were partners from the start.

Jim was the handsome farmer from Sunnyside Township. Marlene, a beautiful teenager who would marry her sweetheart the fall of 1952. They started with nothing, but they had each other.

"I thought that this morning, they were a team, from the beginning to the end," said Klosterman.

The Jiraks would square dance their way across the Midwest and the country for decades, sometimes hosting hundreds at their farm.

"I don't know how many squares, but we had over ten or 15 squares in the shop," said Klosterman.

It would be life on the farm, raising five kids that would fulfill their lives.

All five children run the farm today, ten grandkids, and five greats are coming up the ranks; family was life.

"They were always our biggest fans," said Klosterman.

"And they would always do it together, they would ask, is mom going? Is dad going?" said Dean Jirak, Son.

Over the weekend, the family had a shocker.

Jim would pass away, unexpectedly, peacefully.

The kids went to tell his wife, who was in a care center.

"She understood, she understood, she wanted to know what do we do now," said Michelle.

Just hours after losing her love, Marlene would die too. The two were barely apart.

"They did everything together and dad always drove, and we decided he was still driving, he went first and was waiting for mom to come," said Michelle.

Sure it will be a touch Christmas, pillars of the family are gone, but...

"Give us some peace knowing they are together," said Michelle.

They spent so little time without each other, they could not wait to be together, forever.

Hand in hand, off they go.

Funeral services for Marlene and Jim will be this Friday at United Methodist Church in Breckenridge.

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