“They showed what it’s like to be in love,” said the couple’s son Leo Vatkin to NBC affiliate, WMAQ news.
Isaac became a restaurant owner and Teresa a manicurist. They had three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“They were the best grandparents.. you couldn’t ask for better,” said Cindie Davis to WMAQ.
The couple’s niece said the Vatkins balanced each other out.
“My uncle was the hardworker and [his wife] was the glue.”
Then, during the first week of May, both Isaac and Teresa fell ill.
The hospital staff let the two stay in the same room, once they believed both were on the brink of death.
That’s when the family had an idea: to let Isaac and Teresa hold each other’s hand during the last moments of their lives.
“We were kind of feeling that maybe they’d be scared, maybe they’d sense each other,” said Debbie Handle, the couple’s great-granddaughter.
Teresa died first. Isaac died 40 minutes later.
The family is hoping the couple’s love story will inspire others.
“They set the bar pretty darn high,” said Leo Vatkin.