Couple Married 60 Years Dies Together in Tornado

By Josh Hinkle, Anchor/Reporter

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By Josh Hinkle

PARKERSBURG - A leveled lot now sits in place of Richard and Ethel Mulder's house. Their entire family was over for regular Sunday dinner that day. Not knowing what was about to happen just minutes later, their family left and said goodbye for the last time.

Their son, Rod Mulder, says, "After we left, 15 minutes later it was all gone."

He rushed back to his parents' house to find his mother dead on the lawn.

"Then they said they couldn't find Dad. And he was thrown away too, a couple of hundred feet away from the house."

Richard and Ethel Mulder, both 80, just celebrated their 60th anniversary last year. The tornado that killed also them took nearly everything from their house. What's left is scattered around the basement the couple never reached. Their wedding photo stares up from a box in the middle of the floor.

Parkersburg fire fighters say more than 300 homes are gone or are severely damaged. They believe the tornado hit hardest in the area around the Mulder's house.

Terry Johnson, a Parkersburg fire fighter, says, "The most powerful part of the storm must have been right there where it sucked the sub-floor off the foundation."

Their next door neighbor, Shirley Luhring, 71, also died. Her husband, Herman Luhring, 75, suffered severe injuries.

Their son-in-law, Lonnie Wright, says, "He's thankful to be alive and he's very happy for his blessing, and at the same time he knows he's lost his love."

Rod Mulder says he's holding on to those moments before the storm, the last time he saw his parents. After looking at this scene, he says not much else is left.

"(We) just said goodbye. We all said 'Goodbye' and 'We'll see you.' Mom would always say, 'Stop again.'"

The Mulders leave behind four sons, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Email Josh Hinkle at Josh.Hinkle@kcrg.com

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