During her long tenure on the Wauconda Unit District 118 school board, Nancy J. Pesz had one overriding concern.
"She had a passion for what happened in the classroom," Superintendent Daniel J. Coles said. "She was just so committed to the community and the school district."
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Pesz, a resident of Island Lake for 58 years, died Friday at Pepper Family Hospice in Barrington. She was 76.
She and her late husband, Joe, ran a landscaping firm for many years and she used that business expertise as a school board member, Coles added. She served five elected terms on the school board from 1983 to 2003 and was a longtime district liaison to the Illinois Association of School Boards.
Current board member Tom Weber was a running mate with Pesz in 1995 and described her as an "excellent mentor" for a new school board member. Her main concern was doing right by the students.
"She wanted to do everything she could to make sure they got a great education," he said. "She was just so dedicated as a school board member. To serve 20 years is pretty commendable."
Coles remembered Pesz as a roll-up-your-sleeves type person with a great sense of humor and infectious laugh. But whatever school task was at hand, there was something else Pesz cherished, Coles added.
"No matter what topic we spoke of, she always managed to talk about her family," he said. "Our community is going to miss her."
In a letter to the editor in 2003, Pesz urged continued support for Weber and two others, saying the board was on the right path.
"We want our children and staff to have the best curriculum tools and technology to perform and achieve awards for excellence," she wrote.
"The board also continues to monitor all costs and use of our tax dollars. We appreciate your continued support to help us fund all the programs that are so necessary to bring and keep the education of our community's children moving toward our goals of excellence."
Pesz also was a member of Transfiguration Parish and the Wauconda Chapter of the Sophisticated Ladies Grandmother's Club.
Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at Kisselburg-Wauconda Funeral Home, 235 N. Main St., Wauconda. Prayers will start at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home to Transfiguration, 348 W. Mill St., Wauconda, for Mass at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Windridge Memorial Park in Cary.
She is survived by sons, Joseph M. (Shelly) and David; five grandchildren and a brother, Don (Sunny) Lageschulte. Besides her husband, she was preceded in death by a daughter, Cynthia M. (Douglas) Pesz Zamiski.
Instead of flowers, memorials can be made to the Wauconda High School Boosters Club, 555 N. Main St., Wauconda or the Hospice of Northeastern Illinois, 405 Lake Zurich Road, Barrington.