Chicago couple, unvaccinated and together for years, die from COVID weeks before wedding

CHICAGO -- Luis Suarez and Norma Franco had been together for years. They were finally going to make it official and marry just after Thanksgiving.

But COVID-19 had other plans, and instead of a wedding, family members are now planning a memorial service after both died in October.

"She was his soulmate," said Angel Santos, their son. "They really loved each other."

Santos said Suarez and Franco were not vaccinated, but were planning to get the shot soon so they could visit with family at their wedding. It was too late, however. Both came down with the virus and were hospitalized.

Family members are speaking out now in the hope that their story will convince others to get vaccinated.

"People are worried about the side effects," Santos said. "This side effects of losing a family member are terrible, and that's what happens if you don't get vaccinated."

Suarez grew up in Puerto Rico and Chicago. He was a talented baseball player and later worked as an usher for the White Sox. Because he and Norma were not married yet, once they got sick they were separated in the hospital and unable to get information or communicate with each other. Both were eventually put on life support, and died a week apart.

"It feels like a Romeo and Juliet story, it really does," said stepdaughter Imelda Gambia. "They were meant to be together and something tragic like this happens."

A joint funeral service for Suarez and Franco has already been held. She was dressed in her white wedding gown, and he in his white suit. They wore the wedding rings they planned to exchange later this month.



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