Married 66 years, husband and wife die minutes apart of Covid

Fort Lauderdale

Bill and Esther Ilnisky spent nearly seven decades together as Christian ministers and missionaries, including stints in the Caribbean and Middle East before preaching for 40 years in Florida.

They complemented each other he the bookworm, she outgoing and charismatic. One without the other seemed unthinkable.

So when they died minutes apart of Covid-19 this month at a Palm Beach County hospice, it may have been a hidden blessing, their only child, Sarah Milewski, said even if it was a devastating double loss for her.

Her father was 88, her mom 92. Their 67th wedding anniversary would have been this weekend.

It is so precious, so wonderful, such a heartwarming feeling to know they went together, Milewski said, then adding, I miss them.

Bill Ilnisky grew up in Detroit, deciding at 16 to devote his life to God, Milewski said. He headed to Central Bible College, an Assemblies of God school in Springfield, Missouri.

He preached at nearby churches and needed a piano player. Friends suggested Esther Shabaz, a fellow student from Gary, Indiana. They fell in love.

When my dad proposed, he told her, Esther, I cant promise you wealth, but I can promise you lots of adventure,’ Milewski said. She had a lot, a lot of adventure.

After graduation and their wedding, Bill Ilnisky opened churches in the Midwest. In the late-1950s, the Ilniskys took congregants to Jamaica for a mission, fell in love with the island.—AP

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