The victim was identified as Radzislaw Sadzak. His wife, Zofia Sadzak, was critically injured in the fire, which was contained to the couple's fifth floor unit in a building in the 6400 block of West Belle Plaine Avenue.
Neighbor Russell Burzych, who lives across the hall, said he and his son were awakened by the smoke alarm at about 3:45 a.m.
"My son lives with me and I got up and walked over to the door, opened the door and looked down the hall and there was a lot of smoke, so I slammed the door, I yelled at him 'We gotta get out of here,'" Burzych said.
The couple was taken to a hospital, where Radzislaw Sadzak later died.
Zofia Sadzak was taken to Loyola Hospital where she was in critical condition.
The couple had lived in the building for at least 20 years, said neighbor Jane Maher.
"Just two very, very nice people. He would always try to help out if we needed something done," Maher said of the couple.
Maher, who lives on the third floor, said she didn't hear the smoke alarm go off.
No other injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was not immediately released by authorities.
Jan and Janina Toczyski, who has been close friends with the Sadzak couple for 65 years, said the couple met as teenagers in a club for Polish boys and girls scouts.
"Any time they wanted something, they could call on us and vice versa," Jan Toczycki said.
Warming buses were sent to the scene for those who were forced out of their homes.
"The hallways are just a mess," Maher said. "They are all streaked from the smoke and of course there is water damage."