Michelle Fregoso had a fabulous sense of humor and a smile that could light up any room, friends say.
The director of communications for Naperville Unit District 203 is being remembered this week for that positive attitude and her commitment to spreading the word about the schools she served.
Fregoso died Saturday after a battle with breast cancer. She was 39.
"Michelle did such a fantastic job reflecting our school district, she was so positive and kind, and put others at ease," school board President Kristin Fitzgerald said. "She was an outstanding professional, but she will be equally missed as a friend."
District communications manager Jen Hannon said Fregoso played many roles in her life.
"On a personal level, she was more than just a boss to me," Hannon said. "She was a mentor and someone I looked to for guidance. And she was also just a friend."
Hannon met Fregoso eight years ago when she was a member of the news media and looking for a job in communications. Fregoso eventually hired her in Naperville.
"When she got hired here at 203, I sent her a congratulatory text message and she said, "Thank you! Do you want to come work for me?" Hannon said.
Hannon praised Fregoso for her work in reaching out to the community.
"I think it's very telling when all week people have come into our office and talked about how sorry they were," Hannon said. "Yeah, we were probably the closest with her, but she impacted everybody in this school district."
Others who worked with her said she was exceptionally professional.
"She understood the importance of communication and the power of communication, and she took it very seriously," said Linda LaCloche, Naperville's communications director. "You have a big responsibility daily in that job."
She also was very proud of the work she did on the city's Pradel Safety Town board and the Naperville Junior Woman's Club, friends said.
Fregoso received her bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago in political science and her master's at Lewis University for organizational leadership.
She was bilingual in English and Spanish. She is survived by her husband, Jose, and two daughters.
Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home & Crematory, 24021 Royal Worlington Drive in Naperville. The service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the funeral home and interment will be at Assumption Cemetery, 1510 Winfield Road in Wheaton.
Donations can be made in her name to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network at www.mbcn.org, or to her daughters' education at www.gofundme.com/michelle039s-children039s-education.