CNN reports that as the couple passed away, they held each other’s hands and the hands of their children. Paul Blackwell and Rose Mary Blackwell—61 years old and 65 years old, respectively—died on Sunday after spending two weeks in the ICU and several days on ventilators.
Both taught in the Grand Prairie, Texas school district, where Rose Mary was a second-grade teacher, where she’d just marked her 20th year, while Paul was a PE teacher and football coach.
Their son, Shawn Blackwell, said they worked at their jobs until they fell ill in December. After spending several days on life support, doctors said they wouldn’t recover—and the family ultimately decided to let them go.
“Doctors said they hadn't seen any progression at all, and they were slowly declining in their overall vital functions,” the son told CNN. “It got to the point where it was very far gone and that there was nothing else they could do.”
Blackwell explained that it was his and his brother's decision to “let them go at peace" together. "They were together and holding hands. My brother and I were both holding my parent's hands as well, so all four of us were holding each other's hands as they were both removed from the ventilator," he added.
The Grand Prairie Independent School District also shared its condolences with the family and school community via Facebook. “Rose Mary and Paul will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family, friends, coworkers, and students both current and former," its statement read.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Blackwells’ funerals. The couple left behind five children and 20 grandchildren.
“I just want people to know I am proud of the people my mom and dad were and proud of the things they accomplished,” Blackwell said. “They were the definition of the greatest parents and grandparents ever.”