They were born at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton. At the time, separation would have been difficult if not impossible, and their parents made the decision to let nature take its course.
The Galyons had four arms and four legs, separate hearts, lungs and stomachs. Their vital organs joined in the digestive tracts, with one lower intestine.
In 2014, the Dayton Daily News contacted officials at Guinness World Records, and a spokeswoman told the newspaper would recognize the twins as the world’s longest-living when they turned 63, after passing a pair of Italian twins. Acknowledgement from Guinness World Records was what the two brothers had been looking forward to for years.
“It’s what me and Donnie’s always dreamed about, and we hope to get the ring, because we’ve dreamed about getting this since we were kids,” Ronnie Galyon said in an interview in July 2014.
Early on, the twins’ parents made the decision to not send the boys to school.
“They thought we’d be a distraction,” Donnie said in 2009.
Their parents hired a series of helpers for everyday tasks such as toilet training and learning to tie their shoes. Both men were right-handed, which required intense coordination between the two.
Their lives weren’t spent without spectators — those curious and some who were rude, the brothers told the Dayton Daily News in 2009.
When the boys were 3, their father made the decision to take them on the carnival circuit as a way to support his growing family. They traveled to Canada, throughout the United States and to South America, getting free cotton candy on the midway and babysitting workers’ kids in their downtime.
Ronnie and Donnie continued traveling with the circus, managed by and traveling with their brother, Joe. They retired in 1991 and moved back to Dayton.
In 2010, community members rallied to raise money and build an addition to their brother Jim’s home in Beavercreek so the men could enjoy handicap-accessible living in the comfort of their own space.
That year, Jim said the new living space brought tears to his twin brothers’ eyes. Jim and his wife, Mary, opened their home to his older brothers, who had previously been living in a small Dayton home.
“They’ll live the rest of their days here comfortably,” Jim said in the 2010 report of the twin’s new home at their brother’s. “They’re definitely happier. They’re definitely more at peace.”