Toby Norsworthy died of a broken heart.

That’s what family and friends are saying this week after Norsworthy, 38, who grew up in Unity, died April 24, less than 48 hours after his wife, Jennifer, 40, died from complications of a blood clot.

The couple, who lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and had been married for 10 years, left behind six children between the ages of 20 and 6 years old, said Leslie Plunkett, who grew up with Toby and was his classmate in the 1996 graduating class at Mount View High School in Thorndike.

“It was just two different medical conditions, but his family believes that he died of a broken heart,” Plunkett, who lives in Ayer, Massachusetts, said by phone Monday. “They said it was heart failure.”

Both husband and wife were pronounced dead at the same hospital, where the same doctor and nurse worked on them, according to a report published on AL.com, the news site for the Alabama Media Group.

The story of the two deaths has received national and international attention in recent days with media outlets such as Yahoo News, Buzzfeed and The Independent picking it up online.

Plunkett said Toby Norsworthy’s family “found him unresponsive and that he had passed of heart failure” the morning of April 24. They were at the house to help him after his wife’s April 22 death.

Norsworthy’s sister, Jessi Norsworthy, said Monday by phone that Toby was the typical big brother, always looking after his little sister.

“He was a great big brother, more than anybody could have asked for,” said Jessi, 29, of Thorndike. “He will be missed. He was full of life — very vivacious.

“He was always very protective, looking out, making sure he was there for anything I ever needed. Very generous person and very involved with the church down there in Alabama. Just full of love and very, very nice.”

She said his death was unexpected. “I guess heart attack or heart failure was the final cause of death — and stress and obviously brokenhearted over the loss of his wife,” she said.

“Toby and Jennifer were all about family,” his mother, Tami Norsworthy, told AL.com.

Plunkett echoed that. “Toby was a very selfless person,” she told AL.com. “He adored his wife and absolutely loved each and every one of the children.

“He always put community, friends, family and church first.”

Jessi had just arrived back in Maine from Alabama Monday. The rest of her family is still in Alabama with the children.

“My parents went down there the day that Jennifer passed, so thankfully the kids had my parents right there when Toby passed as well, which provided the most comfort for them,” she said. “I’m not sure that everything has sunk in, but they seem like they’re OK.”

Toby’s parents, Tami and Bruce Norsworthy, were long-time Unity residents and now live in Michigan.

Tabitha Washburn, another of Toby Norsworthy’s sisters, told AL.com that family members have traveled from Maine, Michigan, California, Alaska, Illinois, Missouri and other states to be with the children.

Plunkett said she and another childhood friend, Dan Fitzpatrick, started a GoFundMe campaign to help the family get through expenses and to help the surviving children: three from Jennifer’s previous marriage: Quinten, 20, Riley, 17, and Bradley, 13; and her and Toby’s children together: Mickey, 11, Aurora, 9, and Lainie, 6.

By Monday night, more than $58,000 had been raised with donations from more than 1,200 people over seven days.

“My thought process was if we can even raise just $5,000 within the communities and pass it along on Facebook, we can spread the word of the unfortunate events and raise money for the kids,” Plunkett said. “When you think about it — six kids — I wanted to help the family because they were always so good to my family back home. Toby was always such a good friend to me. He always put his friends, his family, his community, wife, children — he put everyone before himself — and I felt like it was the least we could do for him being such a good person.”

Plunkett said the family wants to keep the children together and to keep them in school.

Toby Norsworthy was born in Presque Isle, according to his Facebook page. He studied at Northern Maine Technical College. The couple met in Eagle River, Alaska, about 13 years ago, according to the AL.com report. He and Jen were married three years later.

They lived in Alaska and Tennessee before moving to Huntsville, Alabama, where Toby was a computer programmer. Jennifer was a stay-at-home mother.

Jennifer Norsworthy, 40, had a history of blood clots, according to AL.com, which said after one formed in her sleep the night of April 22, she was rushed to Madison Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The family attended Pineview Baptist Church and were known as giving and charitable throughout the community, according to another report at New York Daily News online. A funeral was held for the couple at the church Saturday.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow