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Thursday, 8 October 2020

Elderly Illinois couple, aged 78 and 80, die within hours of one another after being found unresponsive in their 'abnormally hot' home by their son following furnace malfunction

 An elderly Illinois couple married for nearly six decades both died just hours apart over the weekend when a malfunctioning furnace severely overheated their home, family and law enforcement have revealed.

Leevell Robinson, 80, and his wife Ora, 78, both died from heat exposure on Sunday after being found unresponsive in their suburban Maywood home, west of Chicago, by one of their three children.

The Robinsons, who were just shy of celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary, were discovered unconscious in bed by their son, Athedus, who dialled 911 shortly after 2pm.

Athedus told dispatchers the temperature inside the residence was ‘abnormally hot’. He later said that his parent’s furnace had recently been serviced because it was ‘malfunctioning’.

Leevell Robinson, 80, and his wife Ora, 78, died on Sunday after being found unresponsive in their suburban Maywood home, west of Chicago, by one of their three children

Leevell Robinson, 80, and his wife Ora, 78, died on Sunday after being found unresponsive in their suburban Maywood home, west of Chicago, by one of their three children

The couple’s son told dispatchers the temperature inside the residence (above) was ‘abnormally hot’. He later said that his parent’s furnace had recently been serviced because it was ‘malfunctioning’.

The couple’s son told dispatchers the temperature inside the residence (above) was ‘abnormally hot’. He later said that his parent’s furnace had recently been serviced because it was ‘malfunctioning’.

A fire crew was dispatched to the home at 2:27pm, where Leevell Robinson was immediately pronounced dead.

Ora Robinson, meanwhile, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where she passed away just over four hours later at 6:49pm.

Autopsies later found that both died as a result of heat exposure as a result of a malfunctioning furnace with underlying health issues listed as contributing factors, according to the Chicago Tribune. A coroner ruled both deaths to be accidental.

Investigators were notified, however no evidence of foul play was found at the scene, Maywood police spokesperson Carmen Rivera said in a statement to the Sun-Times.


Firefighters manually shut down the furnace upon arrival and tested for elevated levels of carbon monoxide inside the home, which were not found, officials said.

The Robinsons were parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Their three children, sons Athedus and Torvis, and their daughter Terri, said it’s been especially tough to lose both parents at once – and just months before the holiday season.

‘My parents lived a good life,’ eldest child Terri Robinson told the Tribune. ‘It’s a loss for us. It’s a big hole in our hearts. But we’re going to be strong because that’s the way they raised us.’

Ora, who formerly worked for Jewel-Osco, was known as an excellent cook according to children. When asked what her speciality dish was, all three told the outlet ‘Everything’.

Leevell Robinson (not pictured) was pronounced dead at the scene. Ora Robinson (pictured bottom left with daughter Terri, center), meanwhile, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where she passed away just over four hours later at 6:49pm

Leevell Robinson (not pictured) was pronounced dead at the scene. Ora Robinson (pictured bottom left with daughter Terri, center), meanwhile, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where she passed away just over four hours later at 6:49pm

The Robinsons were parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Their three children, sons Athedus and Torvis (above), and their daughter Terri, said it’s been especially tough to lose both parents at once – just months before the holiday season.
Ora is shown in a Facebook picture above

The Robinsons were parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Their three children, sons Athedus and Torvis (shown left with Ora), and their daughter Terri, said it’s been especially tough to lose both parents at once – just months before the holiday season.

A tribute posted to Facebook by Arthedus, who discovered his parents unresponsive, reads 'My Heart !!!', accompanied with a picture of Ora

A tribute posted to Facebook by Arthedus, who discovered his parents unresponsive, reads 'My Heart !!!', accompanied with a picture of Ora

Athedus and Torvis said they grew up playing baseball, and their mother was famed among their teammates for always supplying them with homemade snacks.

‘Forty years later they still remember and talk about my mom. She was everybody’s mom and when she became a grandmother she was everyone’s grandma,’ Terri Robinson said. ‘She was a loving mother, a great cook, a best friend to all of us, a great adviser.’

Terri said she used to frequently take trips away with her mother. The pair last travelled together to Washington DC in 2015. She said they’d rarely go more than a day without talking on the phone and often went shopping together on weekends.

The Robinsons, who were just shy of celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary, were discovered unconscious in bed by their son, Athedus (above), who dialled 911 shortly after 2pm

The Robinsons, who were just shy of celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary, were discovered unconscious in bed by their son, Athedus (above), who dialled 911 shortly after 2pm

Leevell Robinson formerly worked for commercial truck manufacturer Navistar International. The Robinson children say he was famed among family members for being able to fix anything.

‘He was my fix-it man when I lived nearby them,' Terri said. 'He was a hard worker who took care of his family. He took excellent care of us, we never wanted for anything.’

Leevell was also reportedly involved with the Freemasons and a talented bowler.

The Robinson children say Christmas will be especially hard without their father, as he loved the holiday season.

They shared fond memories of him dancing around in the kitchen of their childhood home, signing along to his favourite festive hit, The Temptations’ version of Silent Night.

All three children live within an hour of the Robinson family home, located along the 1200 block of South 15th Avenue. 

Athedus said he stopped by on Sunday to check in on his parents and see how they were.

As they face the difficult task of making funeral arrangements for their parents, Terri told the Tribune that it’s their faith that’s helping them to stay strong.

‘We’re here for each other. We find strength in God, in our faith in God,’ Terri told the outlet. ‘We know it’s his will and this is his way of making us stronger.’

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