It was one of the great entertainment industry love stories ever – Pat and Shirley Boone.
They were married for 65 years until Friday morning when death took her.
But Pat says he will see her soon, seeing as how she just changed address.
In her final moments, Shirley was surrounded by her husband and the couple’s four daughters, Cherry, Lindy, Debby and Laury, all of whom were by her bedside singing hymns as she passed.
It was a peaceful death in their Beverly Hills home due to complications from vasculitis, which she had contracted less than a year ago.
“We lived a wonderful, blessed life together for 65 years,” said Pat. “I’ve parted with my better half for a little while … but we don’t die, we just move on to another place, and today was moving day. She’s changed her address is all and moved to a different mansion that I expect to join her in one day. I’m very confident of that. That took the sting out of what happened today because we know we’re gonna be together again and have a whole new beginning.”
Joseph Farah, a friend of 54 years said that sounded just like Pat.
“Even in such a painful and emotionally tough time, it’s just like Pat to make such a beautiful allusion to their steadfast faith,” he said. “That’s why the Boones have been such stalwart evangelists as long as I have known them.”
Pat and Shirley began their love story at 16-years-old.
“We were very much in love,” Pat revealed.
It wasn’t until they were 19 when Shirley’s family planned to move away, that Pat realized it was time to ask her father – country singing legend Red Foley – for permission to marry Shirley.
“He tearfully asked me one thing, ‘Will you take care of my girl?’ and I said I would,” Pat explained. “And the tears rolled into his coffee because he knew he was moving and planned to take her with him, but he was willing to leave her with me.”
In November 1953, the pair eloped and then settled in Teaneck, New Jersey, where they welcomed their four daughters in five years.
Farah, born in 1954, caught up with the pop star in 1965 at the age of 11. He lived across the street from the church the Boones attended at the time – just a few miles from Teaneck.
“It was the time the Beatles were taking over the pop charts, but Pat was already a legend – with more number-one hits that Elvis,” Farah recalls. “Rolling Stone magazine would figure that out many years later.”
Meanwhile, Pat was graduating cum laude from Columbia University and having a friendly competition with Elvis on the pop charts. Shirley focused on raising the four girls.
They eventually moved to Beverly Hills together, where they resided for more than 50 years, watching their four children, 16 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren grow up. Farah also moved to Los Angeles where he reengaged his friendship with the couple – now as an entertainment reporter.
After the girls were raised, Shirley carved out exciting new roles for herself – best-selling author, recording artist, television hostess and humanitarian.
Shirley was well-known for starting a billion-dollar Christian ministry. The couple’s Christian faith was also a contributing key factor in what drove their marriage to last for so long.
“We didn’t have the perfect marriage, but it helps to marry a magnificent woman,” Pat told People magazine. “You make your commitments to God and each other, and in troubled times, you hang on to the commitment to God and to your kids. You see the problems through and you find you’re stronger because of it.”
Part of her passions were also focused on giving back to others, which she first did through an organization she created called Save the Refugee.
Shirley, along with ministers and other humane organizations, raised over a million dollars in a week’s time, sending food and medicines over to Cambodia to assist with the hunger crisis. Their organization eventually morphed into Mercy Corps, now one of the most prominent worldwide hunger-relief organizations.
“[Mercy Corps] continues to grow, and all of this started from her tears and her conviction that we could do something,” Pat said. “She was always ready to interrupt what she was doing and help somebody else.”
And that desire to give back was one of the things Pat says he will remember most about his wife.
“She had an honest, deep, earnest love for people and her desire to help people as an activist,” he said. “She was so easy to love because she loved so easily and so naturally.”