Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk at Yale Road Centre in North Surrey Monday.

Surrey couple now closer as world reacts

Spouses to reside at nearby care homes with hope of eventually living in same facility.

Wolfram Gottschalk will soon be living just blocks away from his wife of 62 years after their eight-month separation sparked an outcry heard around the world.

Ashley Bartyik, granddaughter of longtime Semiahmoo Peninsula residents Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk, told Peace Arch News Monday that health officials will bring her grandparents closer together this week – and eventually move them into the same care facility.

“We are that much closer to having them under one roof! Progress!” she said in an email following a meeting with Fraser Health officials that afternoon.

Bartyik went public with her family’s plight last week by posting to Facebook a photo of her grandparents crying (below) while visiting each other. She called it the “saddest photo I have ever taken.”

Her post was shared more than 10,000 times, and news outlets from around the world have since picked up the story, including CNN, the BBC, Aussie Network News, the Washington Post, People Magazine and Times of India.

The Gottschalks have been living in separate care homes for eight months – Wolfram, 83, in Yale Road Centre in North Surrey, and Anita, 81, at The Residence at Morgan Heights in South Surrey, a half-hour drive away.

Wolfram had been on a wait-list to move into the same facility as his wife but his failing health prompted their granddaughter to speak out.

Bartyik said her grandfather was diagnosed with lymphoma last week and his dementia is getting worse. Her family wants to see the couple  reunited for their final days.

After Monday’s meeting, Bartyik said she expected her grandfather would be moved Tuesday to South Surrey’s Rosemary Heights Seniors Village – four blocks away from his wife’s care home. He’ll also remain on a wait-list to be under the same roof as his wife of 62 years.

“This way he is receiving great care while waiting to be with my Omi (grandmother), and in close vicinity making it so much easier for our family. We took a huge step in the right direction and thank Fraser Health for the communication and making this option available.”

Health officials also told Bartyik they are improving their communications with other families, “which is what we are striving for.”

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