PENSIONER Maria Cramp died this week at the Belvedere Nursing Home in Accrington, where her husband had battled long and hard to get her a place.
Heartbroken husband Dennis, of Maudsley Street, Accrington, waged a bitter battle against Lancashire County Council over the care of his wife, claiming she was being kept against her will by social services.
This week he paid tribute to Maria, his wife of 56 years, who suffered a second stroke a fortnight ago.
Maria, 89, first went into The Hollies, Clayton-le-Moors, after falling and later suffered a stroke in December 2005.
She was treated in hospital after the fall and LCC made the decision to transfer her to The Hollies in spite of Dennis's protests that he could care for her at home.
In January this year he won a compromise in his legal battle against LCC, allowing him to take Maria home up to seven times a week.
He finally managed to get her transferred to Belvedere, a home of his choice, in May.
Dennis, 80, a former paratrooper who took part in the Battle of Arnhem, said: "Despite everything and all the violent death I saw in the war, I would call it the worst day of my life. It was quite shocking at the end.
"But I know she's better off than she was."
He added: "She was a fun person, everybody said so.
"She had a brilliant smile.
"She was very generous and would give things away. If someone said they liked something she just told them to take it."
Maria grew up in the small Austrian town of Ternitz, 60 miles from Vienna, one of nine children, four sisters and four brothers.
Dennis will take her ashes to the family plot in Austria at a later date.
During the Second World War Maria was sent as part of a labour force to work as a domestic in Germany.
In 1948 she and one of her sisters joined a job agency and left Austria to start a new life in Britain as their region was under the control of the occupying Russian forces.
When she first arrived in England Maria worked as a cook and housekeeper for a retired general in Gloucester-shire but a year later moved to London to be closer to her sister.
It was during a half-day off in 1950, while the siblings were visiting Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, that Maria met the man destined to be her husband.
Dennis said: "I met her while we were all sitting on a bench.
"It was her dazzling smile that got me. She had eight gold teeth so, if she smiled, everybody knew it."
The couple married in 1951.
In 1957 Dennis, a lorry driver, and Maria moved to Queen's Park in Blackburn.
They later moved to Rishton to be closer to Dennis' job in Padiham.
Dennis said Maria's hobbies included buying clothes and bingo.
Maria was a member of the Canine Club and Brooks Club in Accrington and had been a regular fixture at Rishton British Legion.
Maria also leaves a sister Elfrieda, brothers Hanz and Josef, and extended family in Austria and England.
A service led by Father Yaqub Shazhad will take place at St Anne's Church in Accrington on Tuesday at 9am.