Elderly woman dies in bone-numbing cold trying to find dead husband

EXETER, Ont. — Funeral services are planned for Monday for a devoted elderly couple who died within hours of each other when the man had a heart attack outdoors and his wife froze to death after she went looking for him, according to police and obituary notices.

Family and friends described Grant Triebner, 90, and Ada Triebner, 83, both of near Exeter, Ont., as “two beautiful lights” whose deaths shocked the small southwestern Ontario community, which like much of the country, is caught in the icy grip of an unusual cold snap.

“We so loved listening to Uncle Grant’s wonderful tales of days gone by, his boisterous laugh and to Aunt Ada saying ‘Oh, Grant!’” relatives Rob and Karen Jolly said in a condolence notice. “They very obviously adored each other.”

Provincial police said they were called to a farm on Wednesday where they found the deceased couple. Grant Triebner was found just inside an open barn on the snow-covered property, Const. Jamie Stanley said in a statement.

Investigators, who ruled out foul play, said he sustained a fatal “medical event.”

“At some point later…Ada Triebner went to check on her husband,” Stanley said. ”However, she ultimately fell victim to the extreme environmental conditions and was found outside on the property.”

According to the funeral notice, Grant Triebner — a “kind and loving husband and father” — suffered a massive heart attack.

“His loving and supportive wife died trying to save the love of her life,” the notice states.

Those who knew the couple described him as a former farmer and school bus driver with a great sense of humour, and her as a former school teacher and gracious host. Both were active churchgoers.

Jim Rowe, a longtime neighbour across the street, told the London Free Press that Grant Triebner was an active senior who rode a bicycle in the summer and regularly spent time outdoors doing chores, even in the winter. Rowe, who said Ada Triebner showed signs of dementia, described the couple as inseparable.

“They were very close. They loved being in their home,” Rowe said. “They never did much apart from each other.”

Word of their deaths even touched complete strangers.

“As I sit here at my desk in downtown Toronto, tears are streaming down my cheeks for a couple I never met, who loved and struggled and built a life together,” Jonathan Roberts posted on a memorial page. “We never met, yet I feel I knew them.”

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