Couple married 69 years die minutes apart, holding hands

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** APN ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY, FEB. 5 **Jack Belsanti holds his wife, Helen’s, hand during lunch at the Oak Brook Healthcare Centre, Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, in Oak Brook, Ill. Residents of the suburban Chicago nursing home can choose their meals from a menu, one small illustration of what elderly care advocates say is a […]

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — The children of a suburban Chicago couple married for 69 years say their parents died just 40 minutes apart while holding hands at a hospital.

Teresa Vatkin died Saturday at 12:10 a.m. at Highland Park Hospital at age 89. Her husband, 91-year-old Isaac Vatkin, died around 12:50 a.m.

Relatives say the husband and wife were holding hands when Teresa Vatkin passed away. 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.

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