It was as if he just couldn't go on.
"Oh, no, oh no," moaned 78-year-old Robert Stickland, when his children told him his bride of 54 years had just died.
He slumped over, his aging body fighting lung and liver cancer. Within hours, he too was gone.
"It was extremely difficult to watch our father's pain at the passing of mum," Russell Stickland told InsideEdition.com via email from New Zealand.
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"Just seeing the emotional breakdown was devastating," he added. "To lose one parent was hard, but to lose a second within hours of the other was surreal."
Yvonne, 73, lost her battle last week against a particularly aggressive tumor near her kidney and spine.
The couple's four children, now in their late 50s and 40s, believe the prospect of going on without his wife was just too much for him. They were inseparable during their long marriage.
He was the social one, always quick to engage in conversation, his son said.
She was a very private person, and reserved in her dealings with others, but not with her children.
"Mum was always more able to show her love for us kids, Strickland said. "Dad showed his loved by providing for his family, and not so much in words."
Robert was 23 and Yvonne only 18, when he saw her ride by on a motorcycle. He was instantly smitten by the beautiful young woman with dark, lustrous hair and a wide, open smile.
He was from Britain, but after marrying Yvonne, they settled in the tiny island nation of Niue, north of New Zealand. In their later years, they relocated to Auckland.
They were good and decent parents, their children said.
They were strict, said Stickland, "but very loving and always wanted the best for their kids."
They placed great stock in being straightforward, but courteous.
"Having good manners and being honest was very important for them," he said. "And they imparted that to their four kids."