Illinois couple married 69 years dies minutes apart holding hands

SKOKIE, Ill. -- An Illinois couple who had been married for 69 years died together over the weekend.

The Daily Herald reports Isaac and Teresa Vatkin were wheeled into the same room so they could be together as they took their last breaths.

Family members positioned Teresa, 89, and Isaac, 91, so that their hands touched in their final moments. They died just 40 minutes apart at Highland Park Hospital.

"I didn't want them to be scared," their granddaughter Debbie Handler told the Daily Herald. "I thought maybe if they knew the other was there, it would help."

Teresa Vatkin died Saturday at 12:10 a.m., and her husband died around 12:50 a.m.

Their daughter, Clara Gesklin, says her father stopped breathing when family members separated the couple's fingers.

The couple's son, Leo Vatkin, says his father "never wanted to do anything apart" from his wife.

During a joint funeral held Monday for the couple, Gesklin said her parents' "love for each other was so strong they simply could not live without each other."

The couple lived in Skokie, just northwest of Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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