Florida Man, 90, Dies of Coronavirus After Saying Final Farewell to His Wife on Her Deathbed

Sam Reck died on Saturday, nearly one month after the coronavirus also claimed his wife 

Man says final goodbye
Sam and JoAnn Reck . Photo: Scott Hooper/TMX.news

A Florida man has died of the novel coronavirus after visiting his wife — who also died of respiratory illness — in the hospital.

Sam and JoAnn Reck recently made headlines after their family shared a video of the emotional moment Sam, 90, said goodbye to his wife, 86, before she succumbed to the coronavirus on July 12.

Nearly a month later, Sam died after likely contracting the virus from his wife, USA Today reported. Sam knew he was taking a risk in visiting JoAnn, but to him, the risk was worth it, according to Scott Hooper, who is JoAnn’s son from her first marriage.

“After Sam tested positive for COVID, I asked him if he regretted his visit to the hospital,” Hooper wrote in a Facebook post. “Without pause he replied, ‘Not one second.’ He said no matter what happens, he was very happy he had the opportunity to say goodbye and hold her hand one more time.”

Man says final goodbye
Sam and JoAnne Reck. Scott Hooper/TMX.news
Man says final goodbye
Sam and JoAnn Reck. Scott Hooper/TMX.news

JoAnn was diagnosed with dementia nearly a year ago and had been living in a nursing home separately from her husband. Though the state of Florida placed a ban on visitors at nursing homes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Sam — who lived in a building next door to his wife's nursing home — found a way to stay in touch by waving to JoAnn from his apartment balcony.

The practice earned the couple the nickname "Romeo and Juliet" from their community. However, their distant visits stopped when JoAnn began showing symptoms of COVID-19 last month and tested positive for the virus at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

Though visitors are generally prohibited from hospitals amid the pandemic, exceptions are made for end-of-life situations. In an emotional video captured by his family, Sam dressed in full protective gear so he could see his wife in person before she died. At the time, the couple had been physically apart for months.

“They suited us all up in all protective gear,” Sam told USA Today of the goodbye. “We might have looked rather ominous, but we could hold her hand and talk to her to try to reassure her that we loved her.”

Man says final goodbye
Sam and JoAnn Reck. Scott Hooper/TMX.news

Before Sam died on Saturday, his daughter Holly Reck said she was able to have one last conversation with him via FaceTime.

“He told me he had lived a good life,” she told USA Today of their conversation. “He never expected to live to 90, and the most important thing to him was that he had taken care of his family, and he let me know how much he loved all of us and I let him know how much I loved him and how much I appreciated everything he had done for me as a father through the years.”

The cremated remains of Sam and JoAnn will be interred together in a memorial garden on the campus of Florida Presbyterian Homes, where they were both living at the time of their deaths, the outlet reported.

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