Indiana Couple Married for 33 Years Die of COVID a Day Apart: ‘I’m Very Heartbroken’

An Indianapolis couple married for more than three decades died of COVID-19 last week, just one day apart.

At the end of 2020, Ernest "Ron" and Ann Wilkins, aged 66 and 59, had been making plans for the new year. They were excited to get their COVID-19 vaccine together, but in December, before it was available to them, they both contracted the virus, friends told WRTV.

The couple was soon hospitalized and put on ventilators, and were never able to leave. Ron, who had diabetes and previously had cancer, died on Jan. 8, and Ann died one day later.

"I'm very heartbroken," their friend, Bryan, told the news outlet while crying, "because I loved Ann and Ron. Just like my brother and sister. And I want people to take this serious."

Bryan said that he and Ron went to school together, where Ron played trumpet and football. Their friendship lasted for decades after, and they would talk constantly.

"That's what we thought of each other, is that we were brothers, and we did everything together," Bryan said. "We talked 10 times a day. If I woke up first in the morning, I would call him. If he woke up first in the morning, he'd call me."

Ann was a public school teacher for 13 years, and became a union leader.

"Ann was deeply committed to her profession and to her fellow educators," Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson told WRTV. "I think what she did well was sort of holding everybody to account because, at the end of the day, her goal was to make sure kids were getting served well."

Bryan is now urging everyone to get vaccinated once they can, to avoid getting COVID-19.

"I would rather you have a reaction to the vaccine than to try to fight COVID, the disease, because a lot of times you won't win," he said. "It's real. I've seen it for myself, and it's something that I don't want to see again."

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