Feliks Ogorodnik and his wife Luiza passed away on Saturday at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Illinois

By Gabrielle Chung
March 31, 2020 09:57 PM
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A family is weathering two tragedies after its patriarch and matriarch died of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) just hours apart.

On Saturday, Feliks Ogorodnik, 88, passed away shortly before 5 p.m. at the Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Illinois — just about four and a half hours after his wife Luiza, 84, died at the same medical center, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The pair died of pneumonia associated with COVID-19 and other preexisting conditions as contributing factors.

Their son-in-law, Ed Greenwald, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that the family does not know how they contracted the highly contagious coronavirus.

“They were a beautiful couple,” he said. “Very loving and wonderful grandparents and very integral to our family.”

Feliks and Luiza immigrated from Ukraine to the United States more than 20 years ago and “were very grateful to be here and become U.S. citizens,” according to an online obituary for the couple. Prior to the move, Feliks worked as a supply manager for a construction company, while Luiza was a physician who “loved people and always sought to help those around her.”

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Feliks was described by his relatives as a man whose “family was everything to him.” He also enjoyed gardening, often sharing his harvest with loved ones and neighbors.

In the tribute, Luiza’s family said she was “a very energetic woman, full of optimism and life” who had a passion for theater and books.

“They always strived to improve their English and learn more about the United States,” the obituary said of the couple. “They will be greatly missed by their family and friends throughout the world.”

Feliks and Luiza are survived by their two daughters, Irina Greenwald and Janina Schnaper, and four grandchildren.

“They were very loving and kind,” Rabbi Andrea London, who recalled seeing the elderly couple in February at a grandson’s bar mitzvah, told Chicago Tribune. “They were so proud. (They) still struggled with English but (the grandmother) got up and spoke. They were very intelligent people.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 183,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 3,727 deaths from coronavirus-related illness. The U.S. now has the most cases in the world, well ahead of China and Italy.

Worldwide, there are now 839,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 41,343 deaths as of March 31.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.