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Upstate NY priest and wife die in hospital together just hours apart

Upstate NY Priest and wife die hours apart from each other in the same hospital room. (WRGB)

CAMBRIDGE, NY (WRGB) -- Fifty-nine years was how long Father Alvian Smirensky was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.

It's also how long he'd been married to his wife, Helen.

Before becoming part of the church, he served in the US Navy. After retiring, Smirensky spent the last of his days tucked away in the mountains of Cambridge, volunteering at the New Skete Monastery.

It was only fitting that they both be laid to rest there.

"My father was an example to everyone he encountered of how to live a kind and decent life," said his daughter Anna Patka.

His daughter was right there with there with them as they passed on. Helen became ill on Saturday. Smirensky performed services with her on her death bed, but after leaving, he had a stroke. Albany Medical put them in the same room, right next to each other, before they both passed on.

"It is a worry of me of how one would survive without the other. Because each of them held each other up," Patka said.

He was 88. She was 84. Now Smirenksy's final resting place will be in the same cemetery as his mother.

A fitting tribute for nearly a lifetime of service for his country, his church, and his family.

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