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Terminally ill bride dies days after wedding

2016.10.29

Deborah Carder and Scott Saur used to talk about getting married, perhaps at an outdoor ceremony at Myrtle Beach, where Carder loved to vacation.

The Erie couple instead exchanged simple vows Oct. 12 at the end of a UPMC Hamot hallway, surrounded by family, friends, nurses and physicians.

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Deborah Carder Saur, 59, passed away Oct. 15 at her home.

"Finally," Carder said after Elder Albert Thomas pronounced the couple husband and wife three days earlier. "I love you, honey."

Carder, 59, had been a patient at Hamot, Millcreek Community Hospital or Golden Living Center-Walnut Creek since June, when she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after breaking her hip.

Hamot nurses learned Oct. 11 about the couple's desire to marry. Since Carder was scheduled to be sent home late Oct. 12 for hospice care, they knew they had to act quickly.

"They could never get to the marriage bureau because Deborah was in the hospital," said Kara Knight, R.N. "We called the bureau and told them about the situation. They said Scott had to come down and apply."

Saur, 55, hustled to the Erie County Courthouse early that day to get the license. Meanwhile, Knight and other nurses worked with Carder's family to plan the ceremony.

Fate intervened when Thomas was spotted early Wednesday visiting a family member in the room next to Carder. They asked if he would return to Hamot to officiate the wedding.

"I was happy to do so," said Thomas, an elder with Greater Bethlehem Temple Church.

A cake was ordered, flowers purchased and the words "Just Married" written large on pieces of computer paper and hung on a window. One of Carder's oldest friends even braided the bride's hair.

Saur returned to the hospital in the afternoon with the marriage license. A judge had waived the usual three-day waiting period.

The ceremony started just before 2 p.m., as Knight wheeled Carder down the hallway to the sound of Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel.

The bride wore a white veil borrowed from one Hamot nurse and a wedding gown another nurse wore when she graduated from Villa Maria Academy 14 years ago. The groom wore a Washington Redskins cap he remembered to remove midway through the five-minute ceremony.

"You look so beautiful," Saur said to his bride. "I love you."

After vows were exchanged, the couple posed for photos and cut the wedding cake before Carder — then Deborah Saur — said she needed to head back to her hospital room to rest.

Her groom remained in the hallway, talking with family members.

"We talked about doing this for a lot of years," Saur said. "We care a lot about each other and we should have done this a long time ago. You think you have all the time in the world."

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