Peers salute former Long Grove president Maria Rodriguez

During a political career that spanned three decades, Maria Rodriguez wore several hats.

She served as Long Grove Village Clerk, Administrator, and ultimately President.

Rodriguez also ran for the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in 2010, and she ran for lieutenant governor in 2014.

And while politics can be a brutal affair, Rodriguez never spoke badly about his rivals or anyone else, her husband, Ray, recalled.

“She believed that everyone had goodness in them,” he said.

Maria Rodriguez, 62, died on 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 has been devoted to public service.

Rodriguez was Long Grove clerk from 1993 to 1994 and administrator from 1994 to 1997. She was elected village president in 2005 and served two terms, until 2013.

Republican Bill Brady chose Rodriguez as his running mate when he ran for governor for the third time in 2014.

He recalled that Rodriguez was “an amazing woman” who was committed to doing what she could to improve the lives of 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 official Ed Sullivan said Rodriguez “cares deeply about everyone.”

“There are politicians and there are officials,” said Sullivan, of Libertyville. “Even her enemies, whom I don’t think she ever had, would call her an official.”

Outside of politics, Rodriguez has been active in the Roman Catholic Church, serving among other things as a liturgical coordinator for St. Mary’s Parish in Buffalo Grove.

Rodriguez found strength in his faith, her husband said.

“It provided him with tremendous support at the end of his life, that there was more to come,” he said.

Ray Rodriguez recalled how his wife, in the face of death, was more concerned that other people were sad than herself.

“She was a very positive, uplifting and wonderful person,” he said.

In a public statement, Long Grove Village President Bill Jacob said he would remember Rodriguez “as a woman of deep faith, courage and conviction.”

“Above all, I will always remember her kindness,” said Jacob.

Visitations are scheduled from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Kolssak Funeral Home, 189 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling.

A funeral mass will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s 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.

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