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After 66 years of marriage, husband and wife succumb to a virus minutes apart.



After 66 years of marriage, husband and wife succumb to a virus minutes apart.
After 66 years of marriage, husband and wife succumb to a virus minutes apart.

After 66 years of marriage, husband and wife succumb to a virus minutes apart.


Bill and Esther Ilnisky were Christian pastors and missionaries for nearly seven decades, working in the Caribbean and the Middle East before preaching in Florida for 40 years.

He was a bookworm, and she was outgoing and charismatic, so they were a good match. It seemed difficult to picture one without the other.

So, even though it was a devastating double loss for their only child, Sarah Milewski, when they died minutes apart of COVID-19 this month at a Palm Beach County hospice, it may have been a secret blessing, she said. Her father was 88 years old, and her mother was 92. This weekend would have been their 67th wedding anniversary.

“Knowing they went together is so precious, so wonderful, such a heartwarming feeling,” Milewski said, before adding, “I miss them.”

Bill Ilnisky grew up in Detroit and decided to dedicate his life to God at the age of 16, according to Milewski. He enrolled at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, an Assemblies of God institution. He wanted a pianist to preach at local churches. Esther Shabaz, a fellow student from Gary, Indiana, was recommended by colleagues. They were smitten.

“When my father proposed to her, he said, ‘Esther, I can’t promise you wealth, but I can promise you lots of adventure,’” Milewski explained. “She had a lot of fun in her life.”

Bill Ilnisky started churches in the Midwest after graduation and their wedding. The Ilniskys brought congregants to Jamaica for a mission in the late 1950s, fell in love with the island, and stayed for a decade to run a church in Montego Bay.

Milewski, then 2 years old, was adopted from a Miami foster home at that period. Bill Ilnisky moved the family from Jamaica to Lebanon in 1969, where he ministered to college students and taught. His wife formed a Christian rock band and started an outreach center.

“Lebanon was an amazing country at the time — gorgeous,” Milewski said.

However, in 1975, a civil war erupted between Christian and Muslim groups, with Beirut, the country’s capital, serving as a battlefield. Outside their apartment, bombs exploded twice, the first knocking Milewski out of bed and the second slamming her father to the ground.

Milewski explained, “My mother thought he was dead.” “All night, my mother and I hid in the bathroom, weeping and praying.” Bullet holes pocked the walls of every apartment on every floor except theirs the next morning.

“We put it down to prayer,” she said.

When the US Marines rescued Americans in 1976, they were the last plane back.

Bill Ilnisky became pastor at Calvary Temple in West Palm Beach, later renamed Lighthouse Christian Center International, shortly after they returned to the United States. His wife founded Esther Network International, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children how to pray.

When the couple arrived, Tom Belt, a former missionary from Oklahoma City, was a teenager at Calvary Temple. Bill Ilnisky’s stories of missionary work, he said, piqued his interest in traveling.

The Ilniskys, according to Belt, were “very welcoming, believed in others, and forgiving.”

Bill Ilnisky had dementia when he retired three years ago, despite being physically fit for a late octogenarian. His wife continued to run her prayer network and engage in Zoom calls.

The couple took precautions when the pandemic struck last year, according to Milewski. Bill Ilnisky went out on occasion, while her mother stayed at home and had groceries delivered.

His daughter said, “He couldn’t handle it.” “He wanted to be in the company of others.”

On Valentine’s Day, her mother’s birthday, Sarah Milewski and her husband paid a visit to her parents. Her mother became sick a few days later, and the couple was diagnosed with the virus and admitted to the hospital not long after.

The disease overtook them, despite the fact that the prognosis was initially positive. The decision to place them in hospice was taken on February 27. In her 15 years of dealing with the dying, Jacqueline Lopez-Devine, chief clinical officer at Trustbridge hospice, said she had never seen a couple arrive together. She claimed that having them in the same space for their final days was not an issue.

Milewski said her goodbyes through a window due to the flu, a microphone bearing “I love you” to her parents’ bedside. They seemed to be asleep, with her father on the right side and her mother facing him. As Milewski spoke, he would nod; her mother tried but couldn’t speak.

Milewski described the experience as “horrible.”

Esther Ilnisky died on March 1 at 10:15 a.m. Her husband arrived fifteen minutes later.

Milewski said, “They were always, always together.” “We’re on the same page.”

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St. Louis Pandemic Task Force to feds: ‘We need to ask for help’



St. Louis Pandemic Task Force to feds: ‘We need to ask for help’

ST. LOUIS–Military doctors or medical teams staffed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be in the St. Louis area if the federal government answers a call for help from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

On Thursday, Dr. Alex Garza, Task Force Leader, told FOX2 that it’s the first time hospitals here have needed to make the request, as hospitals not only see the most patients they’ve seen during the pandemic, but are losing staff to sick days brought on by their own COVID cases or those close to them.

“This is a reflection of where we are in the pandemic. We’re seeing more patients now than we have ever seen before in the pandemic. Unfortunately, we have our workforce is either getting ill or having that second order effect from the virus… having to take care of family members, schools closing down, things like that. We’re typically very self-sufficient in health care, we don’t like to ask for help but I think we’re at that point where we need to ask for help,” Garza said.

The move comes roughly three weeks after Missouri Governor Mike Parson ended the state of emergency which had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. Task Force leaders have been critical of that move to end the emergency order, which allowed for expanded use of telehealth services, the ability to exceed licensed bed capacity when required by demand, took down barriers to testing and treatment of COVID 19 patients.

The timetable for a response to the request for federal help was unclear Thursday. A spokesperson for Governor Parson said his office was aware of the request, which it said went through the State Emergency Management Agency.


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Denver Public Schools prepares to close schools as enrollment declines



Denver Public Schools prepares to close schools as enrollment declines

Denver Public Schools is moving forward with its plan to close schools in anticipation that the district will continue to see enrollment in its K-12 schools fall in coming years, Superintendent Alex Marrero said during Thursday’s school board meeting.

The district will form a committee, made up of families and other community members, to determine what criteria should be used to determine if a school closes or consolidates. Applications for those interested in joining the committee will be available online starting Friday, he said.

DPS expects to announce which schools will close by the end of next year, with the closures going into effect during the 2024-25 academic year, according to Marrero’s presentation.

But it’s possible some schools will close sooner because they already are struggling, he said.

“There are some who are on life support now,” Marrero said.

Enrollment in public schools has fallen statewide during the pandemic, with the state Department of Education reporting Wednesday that there were 1,174 fewer K-12 students enrolled last fall compared with the previous year. The state saw a larger decline in enrollment during the 2020-21 school year, when more than 20,000 students left.

DPS, the state’s largest school district, saw enrollment in preschool through 12th grade decline by 172 people to 88,889 students in October, according to the education department.

More children are being home-schooled during the pandemic, and some families have moved out of state during the pandemic. A declining birthrate also is attributed to fewer students, according to education officials.

Marrero, in an interview before the meeting, also blamed gentrification and Denver’s high cost of living for the enrollment declines, which he said affects the ability of families and DPS employees to remain in the city.

“Many of the families we have traditionally served as a community can longer live here,” said Nicholas Martinez, executive director of Transform Education Now, who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting.

When students go, so does money allocated to districts and schools. For example, the loss of 6,000 students would result in the loss of $78 million, Marrero said.

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Giants on verge of hiring next GM: Joe Schoen, Ryan Poles or Adam Peters



Giants on verge of hiring next GM: Joe Schoen, Ryan Poles or Adam Peters

The Giants are on the verge of naming their fifth GM since 1979.

Friday should be the day.

San Francisco 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters’ Thursday trip to the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford, N.J., wrapped up the second and final round of interviews.

The Giants have narrowed the field to three: Buffalo Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, and Peters.

The Bills, Chiefs and 49ers all are still playing in this postseason, three of the eight teams still alive for this weekend’s Divisional playoff round.

The Giants, who have played and lost one playoff game in the last decade, are looking for a blueprint for modern relevance.

Schoen, 42, and Poles, 36, were the first two candidates to interview in both rounds: first via Zoom on Jan. 12, then with in-person visits this Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Peters, 42, turned around quickly from Monday’s virtual interview to Thursday’s visit.

The Giants started with nine candidates, whittled the list down to three, and now will pick their man to hopefully lead the franchise out of the darkness.

Schoen presents as the most obvious hire for what the Giants need: a respected and experienced talent evaluator who has helped build a winner and pick a great quarterback before. He also has interviewed with the Chicago Bears.

“We are looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities, somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching,” co-owner John Mara said in a statement on Jan. 10.

Poles is an impressive candidate from a self-sustaining league powerhouse and Super Bowl championship team that drafted a great quarterback within the last five years.

Peters has pedigree from his work building the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 roster and contributing to the 49ers’ enviable recent success – though he did help draft Trey Lance, a raw developmental QB selected No. 3 overall last spring following a trade up.

All three candidates would be first-time GMs. But so far, the two coaches ticketed to likely interview for the head coaching job – Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores – would not be first-time head coaches.

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll would seem to be the ideal and most likely fit at head coach if Schoen lands the job. Daboll’s work helping Bills QB Josh Allen harness his raw talent to dominant levels is the envy of the entire league.

He is a New England Patriots product just like Joe Judge. In fact, he would have been Judge’s pick as Giants offensive coordinator two years ago if he’d been available.

But he would come with an offense and an experience with quarterbacks that the offensively-challenged Giants desperately need.

Former Eagles Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, and Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham all seem like candidates who could get a look, as well, based on connections to the GM candidates, the Giants’ needs or what might create a favorable match.

But a full list really won’t come together until the GM hire occurs. Wednesday’s request for Quinn only went out early because multiple candidates had him on their list, and the Giants didn’t want to see Quinn hired before talking to him, a source said.

The Giants were the last of eight teams with full-time head coaching vacancies to submit for a head coaching interview.

Now it’s time to hire the right man for the job and let him lead the search for the next coach who Mara and Steve Tisch will charge with turning their lost ship around.

“There are no package deals,” Mara said last week. “We want to get the general manager ideally done first and, obviously, we’ll talk about the candidates for head coach, but it’s not going to be a package deal. I want to go through a complete process here, interview as many people as possible. I don’t want to rush into anything – we made that mistake in the past.”


The Giants’ home and away opponents for next season are locked in.

Home: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts

Away: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans

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