The Schmooze

Married For 69 Years, They Die Together — Holding Hands

A Jewish couple married for 69 years died only minutes apart, hand in hand, last weekend.

Isaac Vatkin, 91, and Teresa Vatkin, 89, were both lying unresponsive in a Highland Park, Illinois hospital, when their grandchildren arranged them together so that they could hold hands.

“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 died first, just 40 minutes before Isaac passed.

“Their love for each other was so strong, they simply could not live without each other,” their daughter, Clara Gesklin, said during the couple’s joint funeral service on Monday.

The couple’s love story began in their home country Argentina. The two lived far apart, and relied on sending letters back and forth during their early courtship. They moved to the United States after getting married, and settled in Skokie, Illinois, where Isaac ran a kosher meat distributor business, and Teresa was a manicurist.

“They were always in love, literally to the end. To the last second,” Rabbi Barry Schechter, said, during the couple’s service.

Thea Glassman is an Associate Editor at the Forward. Reach her at or on Twitter at @theakglassman.

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Married For 69 Years, They Die Together — Holding Hands

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