FARGO — A Fargo couple that was said to be “joined at the hip” since their teenage years were always together in life, and now, in death.
David and Carolyn Moe, both longtime employees of Fargo Public Schools, contracted COVID-19 and died within a few weeks of one another.
Carolyn, 78, got sick first and died just before Thanksgiving on November 24, 2020.
David, 79, died the day after Christmas on December 26, 2020.
A joint funeral will be held for the couple at First Baptist Church of Fargo on Friday, Jan. 15, and will be livestreamed on Facebook.
Their sons, Terry Moe of Fargo and Kevin Moe of West Chester, Ohio, said it’s difficult to absorb the deaths of both parents at once.
“It’s going to be hard to think about the holidays moving forward without ever replaying that whole situation in our minds,” Kevin Moe said.
It’s believed one or both of them contracted the virus during a week-long visit to Rochester, Minn., and the Mayo Clinic in early November.
David had undergone a kidney transplant 12 years prior, and the annual visits were part of his follow-up care.
At the time, the Mayo Clinic and the Rochester community as a whole were in the midst of a large coronavirus outbreak.
Kevin Moe can’t believe how quickly they deteriorated after contracting the virus.
“They went from good, to gone, in just an incredible short amount of time,” he said.
Hours before their funeral on Friday, Terry Moe will receive his first COVID-19 vaccination.
“How ironic,” he said.
Together at home and work
David Moe and Carolyn Bahr were both born and raised in Bemidji, Minn., where they became high school sweethearts and were married.
After his college graduation there in the mid-1960s, the couple moved to Fargo, where David got his first job teaching at Lincoln Elementary.
When the school district moved sixth graders into the junior high, David had the option to move to Agassiz Middle School, where he would teach math and science instead of all subjects.
“He said that was the best decision he ever made,” Terry Moe said.
Brad Larson, principal at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School, worked with David there and at Agassiz.
“The kids absolutely loved him,” Larson said. “He was not overly emotional, but had a great ability to connect and create great relationships with kids.”
At home, the Moes were frugal, getting by with one car for many years, even when their children were older and going off in different directions.
“It was complicated, but they made it work,” Kevin Moe said.
When it came to the boys’ education, however, their parents went the extra mile.
Terry Moe went on to become a dentist, while younger brother Kevin worked as a PhD chemist before pivoting to a career as a corporate pilot.
Kevin Moe said it’s hard to remember when his dad retired, because he went straight from a 40-plus year career of full-time teaching to nearly 15 years of almost full-time substitute teaching.
During all of that time, Carolyn was a school paraprofessional, working in the office, the library and with special needs children.
“She was probably more comfortable with kids than she was with adults, so it was a good fit,” Kevin Moe said.
Working in the school district, and in the same school, allowed David and Carolyn to be together more than most couples.
“When you saw one, you’d see the other,” Larson said.
Unable to ‘live without each other’
It was a few days after the visit to Rochester when Carolyn Moe started to not feel well.
After she collapsed at home, her husband called 911.
Responding paramedics said her oxygen level was dangerously low, and she needed to go to the hospital.
Within a day or two, David got sick and was hospitalized.
Carolyn’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and her husband was able to visit her room, where she was mostly unresponsive.
She would need to go on a ventilator to breathe, but David didn’t want to put her through that.
Instead, hospice protocols were started.
Hospital staff gave her medication to make her comfortable and not feel like she was gasping for air, Terry Moe said.
David was allowed back in the room for a short time.
“At that point, she was very restful and at peace, and that was the last picture he had of her,” he said.
David’s condition went downhill as well, but in a few weeks, he began to improve and was moved to an intermediate care facility.
As he grew stronger, his awareness improved, and his sons believe their dad finally started to fully realize that his lifelong partner was gone.
David Moe began coughing up blood and died a few days later.
“They just didn’t know how to live without each other,” Kevin Moe said.
Memorial donations in honor of David and/or Carolyn can be sent to:
The Gift of Life Transplant House, 705 2nd Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902
The First Baptist Church of Fargo, 1501 17th Ave. S., Fargo, ND 58103
Funeral information for David and Carolyn Moe:
Friday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m.
The livestream can be found here.