Juan and Blanca Rodriguez (pictured together), who fell in love in high school, lost their lives to COVID-19 on February 8. They were both 67 and lived in San Diego, according to their children
A husband and wife, who fell in love in high school, died from COVID-19 just three hours apart at separate hospitals in California.
Juan and Blanca Rodriguez, of San Diego, lost their lives to the deadly virus on February 8. They were both 67.
Family members told CNN that Blanca died first and about three hours later, Juan joined her. Blanca and Juan spent their final moments apart after they were taken to separate hospitals.
Both had trouble breathing with Juan hooked up to a machine that was breathing for him and Blanca wearing an oxygen mask.
Their daughter, Blanca Velazquez, told the network that she, her three siblings and the couple’s grandchildren, spoke to the couple during a video call.
‘She told my dad that he was the love of her life and that she loved him,’ daughter Blanca Velazquez . ‘She told us all that she loved us.’
Juan was unable to speak during the call, but it ended with Blanca telling her beloved husband that she would see him later.
A short time later, hospital staff called the family and told them to come to the hospital where Blanca was being treated. They were able to see her before she died at 12.34am.
Hours later, the family members rushed to another hospital where Juan was being held. He passed away as they were in the hallway at 4.18am.
Family members said Blanca (far left, beside her husband) died first and about three hours later, Juan (center in Navy blue) joined her
The pair had been married for nearly 50 years after eloping in 1972. They are pictured with their four children
The pair had been married for nearly 50 years after eloping in 1972. Their daughter, Anna Cabral, recalled to CNN how her parents met.
It all began when they were about 11 and 12 years old. They developed an instant bond, Cabral said, adding: ‘When she would turn around and look at him, he would wink at her. She remembered that he had these green eyes.
‘I guess around that time he started telling her and his friends that he was going to marry her one day.’
But they didn’t start dating until they were high school juniors. Both immigrants from Mexico, the two broke up because Blanca said she wasn’t that interested in Juan. However, when she saw him at a sweethearts dance with another date during their senior year, she told him she wanted him back.
‘It wasn’t until she was a senior when she saw him with someone else at a dance and she went up to him and told them, “Oh, you’re going to be my boyfriend now,”‘ Velazquez told CNN. ‘And my dad said, “OK.” They were together ever since.’
Their son, Juan Manuel Rodriguez Jr, shared: ‘I really do think my mom and dad had one soul. It wasn’t two souls — it was one.’
And the couple’s other daughter, Cynthia Rodriguez, told CNN that when her mother would walk into a room, her dad’s face ‘would light up like it was the first time, like she was the most beautiful thing in a world’.
Their mother, who worked as a special agent for the US Department of Transportation, was passionate about cooking, animals and tending to her rose garden while Juan enjoyed music and sports, especially coaching youth baseball and youth soccer.
The pair (pictured) actually met in middle school but they didn’t start dating until they were juniors in high school
‘Our parents’ love was legendary and extraordinary in life, but it was also extraordinary in death,’ their daughter, Velazquez, said. ‘They were lovebirds. They were always together, cuddling, holding hands.’ Juan and Blanca are pictured together when they were a bit younger
Juan worked as a residential supervisor for the workers and teens who lived in the dorms at the San Diego Job Corps.
The siblings said they have been isolating for a year and are unsure how their parents got COVID.
Cynthia and Velazquez, plus her husband and two kids, lived with their parents and all seven were infected with the virus.
‘We were quarantining since February of last year,’ Cynthia told CNN, adding that her brother-in-law ‘was the only one leaving the house as an essential employee’.
The siblings explained that their father, Juan, was mostly bedbound because he suffered from diabetes, kidney issues, congestive heart failure and a bad bone break that never properly healed.
Their mother had diabetes and arthritis. The couple’s health declined rapidly and they were hospitalized on January 26.
‘Our parents’ love was legendary and extraordinary in life, but it was also extraordinary in death,’ Velazquez said.
‘They were lovebirds. They were always together, cuddling, holding hands.’