'I will always remember her kindness': Peers laud former Long Grove president Maria Rodriguez
During a political career that spanned three decades, Maria Rodriguez wore many hats.
She served as Long Grove's village clerk, as a trustee and ultimately as its president.
Rodriguez also ran for the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in 2010, and she ran for lieutenant governor in 2014.
And though politics can be a brutal business, Rodriguez never spoke badly about her rivals or anyone else, recalled her husband, Ray.
"She believed that everybody had goodness in them," he said.
Maria Rodriguez, 62, died Tuesday, surrounded by her family. She had cancer.
Born Maria Dolores Rengers, Rodriguez grew up in Glenview. She graduated from St. Louise de Marillac High School in Northfield and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Much of Rodriguez's adult life was dedicated to public service.
Rodriguez served as Long Grove's clerk from 1993 to 1994 and as trustee from 1994 to 1997. She was elected village president in 2005 and served two terms, until 2013.
Republican Bill Brady chose Rodriguez to be his running mate when he ran for governor a third time in 2014.
He recalled Rodriguez as "an amazing woman" who was committed to doing what she could to make life better for others.
It wasn't just Rodriguez's political experience that made her a great running mate, Brady said.
"Her heart was always in the right place," said Brady, of Bloomington.
Former state Rep. Ed Sullivan said Rodriguez "cared deeply for basically everyone."
"There are politicians and there are public servants," said Sullivan, of Libertyville. "Even her enemies, of which I don't think she had any, would call her a public servant."
Outside politics, Rodriguez was active in the Roman Catholic Church, serving as liturgical coordinator for St. Mary Parish in Buffalo Grove, among other duties.
Rodriguez found strength in her faith, her husband said.
"It provided her tremendous support at the end of her life, that there was more to come," he said.
Ray Rodriguez recalled how his wife, facing death, was more concerned about other people being sad than herself.
"She was a very positive, uplifting, wonderful person," he said.
In a public statement, Long Grove Village President Bill Jacob said he'll remember Rodriguez "as a woman of deep faith, courage and conviction."
"Most of all I will always remember her kindness," Jacob said.
Visitation is scheduled to run from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Kolssak Funeral Home, 189 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling.
A funeral Mass will be said at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary Catholic Church, 10 N. Buffalo Grove Road.
In addition to her husband, Rodgriguez's survivors include three children, two grandchildren, her mother and five siblings.
Instead of sending flowers, donations should be made to charity.