Whenever the Kiss Cam landed on them at Blackhawks games, Earl and RoseLee Deutsch would act like newlyweds.
They’d smile and gaze into each other’s eyes.
As they puckered up, Mr. Deutsch would pump his fist for the camera.
And the crowd would go wild.
After all, it isn’t often they’d see couples on the Kiss Cam who’d been married for 70 years.
Last Sunday, RoseLee, 92, came to the Blackhawks game alone because Earl, 93, died in January.
She wore her husband’s Hawks jersey emblazoned with the number 50 — a gift from the team 20 years ago for the couple’s golden anniversary.
The Hawks had a surprise for her. They paid tribute to the Deutsches — season ticket-holders for more than 60 years — by featuring a montage of five years of their smooches on the Jumbotron.
The United Center crowd watched as, game after game, the radiant couple turned to each other for a peck.
“When they would come to us, we’d kiss,” Mrs. Deutsch said afterward. “We knew how.”
The tribute drew a standing ovation and more than a few tears.
The Deutsches — in their regular seats about 14 rows behind the Blackhawks bench — became the traditional grand finale on the Kiss Cam. People would applaud and shout their approval and, yes, the occasional, “Get a room!”
Sometimes, when they were out at a restaurant or elsewhere, fans would recognize them. Some asked: What’s your advice for having a long and happy marriage?
“Just listening, looking, feeling, loving,” Mrs. Deutsch would say. “That’s it.”
She can’t remember them ever getting irritated with each other. “There were times when we didn’t agree on something, but it wasn’t an unhappy disagreement. It was just yes or no.”
“Dad would joke the biggest mistake he ever made was when he took her out to a hockey game, and she loved it,” their son Larry said.
They became season ticket-holders in the 1960s, when the games were at the old Chicago Stadium, and remained so through the Hawks winning four Stanley Cups.
“We just wanted to do something together,” Mrs. Deutsch said of going to the games.
They befriended the fans who sat near them. They got to know the players’ wives.
“It just grew to be almost like a family,” Mrs. Deutsch said.
The couple had four sons: Dr. Stephen Deutsch, Howard Deutsch, Larry Deutsch and Barry Deutsch, as well as 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A number of them accompanied Mrs. Deutsch at the game last weekend.
“My parents treated everybody like family,” Larry Deutsch said. “I think it’s why none of us had any interest to move. We love Chicago, but we were never going to leave our family’s side.”
Together, the couple built their business, Deutsch Luggage. At its peak, it had four locations on prime real estate in downtown Chicago and in the suburbs. Their clientele included Mayors Richard J. Daley and Jane M. Byrne, actor-comic Steve Martin and Blackhawks players.
Young Earl grew up on the North Side with a sister, Sydell. His parents, Hazel and Joe Deutsch, founded Deutsch Luggage in the days of steamer trunks. He played football for a youth team called the Junior Bears and liked to eat at the old Ashkenaz deli, 1432 W. Morse Ave.
He palled around with another Sullivan High School kid, Sheldon Greenfield, who became a lifelong friend and Las Vegas headliner known as Shecky Greene.
Reached in Nevada, Greene still remembers his phone number from the old neighborhood — RO (Rogers Park) 4-6826. In the golden days before they all went off to fight in World War II, he and Earl roamed Rogers Park with friends Bubby Wolf, Ziggy Blum, Buddy Perelman and Bobby Warsaw.
“We were inseparable,“ Greene said. “We actually loved each other. If anybody ever needed anything from that group, you helped each other out.”
They went to movies at the 400, the Adelphi and the Granada theaters.
Earl “was very quiet, a little guy, but in all sports ... they would pick Earl,” Greene said. “He was very nice, Earl. He was a good kid.”
RoseLee Ross met Earl after he returned from World War II, having served as a radio man in Okinawa, Iceland and the Philippines. With his leonine locks, his mom would call him “the prettiest boy in Rogers Park.”
They began dating while attending the University of Illinois. “It was instant attraction,” Mrs. Deutsch said.
She remembers the day he proposed. “We would park in the car in the garage and sit and talk. Not illicitly. Just like young people do. At one point, he reached in his pocket and took out a little box and gave it to me and put it on me. It was my ring, and I treasured it. Loved it. Loved him.”
They got married at the InterContinental Hotel and raised their family in Rogers Park and Skokie.
Through it all, they went to Blackhawks games.
“We had date nights every night when we walked out the door,” Mrs. Deutsch said. “We were a pretty good couple, honey.”
Redheaded Keith Magnuson was a favorite player. An amateur artist, Mrs. Deutsch said she painted a picture of a dejected Magnuson that she copied from a photo after the Hawks lost the 1971 Stanley Cup to the Montreal Canadiens.
“I took it by the stadium while they were still practicing, and I showed it to him and gave him a copy,” she said. The picture appeared in Magnuson’s book “None Against,” according to Blackhawks historian Bob Verdi, who did an online tribute to the Deutsches.
The Deutsches sold prints of the painting at their luggage shops.
Over the years, they had stores on Van Buren and Oak streets and in Skokie and Oak Brook. Mr. Deutsch knew how to close a sale. He also had an eye for new products, like when rolling luggage came out, Howard Deutsch said. Mrs. Deutsch became a personal shopper and consummate gift wrapper for many customers, who trusted her to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
“They would divide and conquer,” Larry Deutsch said. “They would drive in from Skokie, drop her off at Oak Street. He’d go to Van Buren. Howie would go to Oak Brook. Dad might go to Skokie, and a cousin would run the Van Buren store.”
They enjoyed dining at Myron & Phil’s in Lincolnwood and Jack’s restaurant on Touhy Avenue just west of the Edens Expressway. Mr. Deutsch liked giving give Dove bars to his grandchildren. And he loved to wear spiffy socks — the more brightly colored and patterned, the better, Stephen Deutsch said.
Each winter, Mr. Deutsch and his four boys would head to Boca Raton to play golf and reconnect.
Services have been been held.
“They were inseparable,” Barry Deutsch said. “They were always holding hands.”
“Mom was holding Dad’s hands at the end and would not let go,” Larry Deutsch said. For an hour after he died, “She would not let go.”
Contributing: Mitch Dudek