After 66 Years, Couple Dies Together of COVID-19

Bill and Esther Ilnisky were in the same hospice room at the end
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 21, 2021 11:20 AM CDT
After 66 Years, Couple Dies Together of COVID-19
This undated photo provided by Sarah Milewski shows Bill and Esther Ilnisky.   (Sarah Milewski via AP)

Bill and Esther Ilnisky spent nearly seven decades together as Christian ministers and missionaries, including stints in the Caribbean and Middle East before preaching for 40 years in Florida. They complemented each other—he the bookworm, she outgoing and charismatic. One without the other seemed unthinkable. So when they died minutes apart of COVID-19 this month at a Palm Beach County hospice, it seemed fitting, said their only child, Sarah Milewski—even if it was a devastating double loss for her. Her father was 88, her mom 92, the AP reports. Their 67th wedding anniversary would have been this weekend. "It is so precious, so wonderful, such a heartwarming feeling to know they went together,” Milewski said, then adding, "I miss them."

When the pandemic hit last year, the couple took precautions, Milewski said. She and her husband visited her parents on Valentine's Day, her mother's birthday. A few days later, her mom became ill, and not long after the couple were diagnosed with the virus and hospitalized. While the prognosis was good initially, the disease overtook them. The decision was made Feb. 27 to place them in hospice, where they were put in the same room. Milewski said her goodbyes through a window, using a microphone. Her parents looked like they did when sleeping, her father lying on the right side, her mother facing him. He would nod as Milewski spoke; her mom tried to speak but couldn't. "It was horrible," Milewski said. At 10:15 a.m. March 1, Esther Ilnisky died. Fifteen minutes later, her husband followed. "They were always, always together," Milewski said. "So in sync."

(More COVID-19 stories.)

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