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Loss of Dolores Rodríguez Mourned by Community

By La Prensa Staff

The death of long-time Latina activist Dolores Rodríguez is being felt deeply by all whose lives she touched in one way or another over the years. She is being remembered in many roles: as mentor, educator, counselor, confidant—all marked by her deeply-rooted Catholic faith, community service, and political activities.

“We have a new angel in heaven.  She was a friend to the Hispanic community,” wrote Carmen Barbosa in an email to friends and family. “She will keep an eye on us in heaven.”

 Ms. Rodríguez, 78, worked for decades at the Economic Opportunity Planning Association (EOPA) as a case manager. The University of Toledo graduate was forced into retirement a few years ago following a stroke, according to family members. She passed away Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in her North Toledo home.

“With a heavy heart and fond memories, I extend my thoughts and prayers to the family of my Catholic sister Dolores Rodríguez, the many friends and family members,” wrote Roberto Torres in a Facebook post. “Yes, Lola, I have been going to church. Thank you ma for sharing your journey in Christ with this young disciple. You will be missed.”

 “Lola,” as she was called by many, was well known for mentoring young Latinas, always hoping they would pick up the mantel of Latino leadership. Many of them took to Facebook to extend their thanks posthumously.

“I will miss our talks, your boldness, and your humor,” wrote Sabina Elizondo Serratos, Adelante, Inc. executive director. “Thank you for your encouragement, advice, and support over the years. Rest peacefully, love you always!”
 


 

“Our Latino community sure did lose a great one. My deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers going out to the family,” wrote Yvonne Ramos Ybarra, lead singer of Yvonne y Fuego. “May God wrap his arms around you and may you celebrate the blessing of having such an incredible woman as a matriarch to our Toledo. She will be missed by many.”

 “My condolences to the entire Rodríguez family. To ‘Lola,’ thank you for your kind heart, your compassion, and your dedication to the Latino community in NW Ohio,” wrote Lisa Canales. “The path you walked won’t be forgotten and the doors you opened will not be shut. The pride for this Latino community will be felt in the souls of those you touched.”

“A true legend and an inspiration to so many. My condolences to the family. You will truly be missed,” wrote Guisselle Mendoza McDonald. Rico Neller of La Prensa wholeheartedly agreed. 

Born Dolores Garáy in San Antonio on Nov. 22, 1940, Ms. Rodríguez first settled in Northwest Ohio following her marriage at age 18 to Santos Rodríguez, Jr. They first moved to Lima, where some of her husband’s relatives resided. The couple later moved to Toledo.

Ms. Rodríguez first completed an associate’s degree in childhood development, then worked as a preschool teacher for a decade, part of that time with the Head Start program. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in counseling and guidance, both diplomas from UT.

Ms. Rodríguez spent many summers teaching the children of migrant farm workers and was employed for a time as a social services worker at the Guadalupe Center. But her heart of community service, according to those who knew her, extended well beyond that—ensuring struggling Latino families had what they needed at Christmas and throughout the year.

“What a beautiful woman, cool lady that was my friend,” wrote fellow Latino activist Benito Lucio. “Condolences to her family. Lola earned heaven with all her work in the community.”

A devout Roman Catholic, she taught religious education classes and was active in Hispanic ministry for the Toledo Catholic Diocese. She also was a long-time member of the former St. Hedwig Parish near her North Toledo home. Behind the scenes, Ms. Rodríguez became known for ensuring young Latinas and Latinos attended church and teaching them the proper way to act as emerging leaders.

For all of her efforts, Ms. Rodríguez received 2003 César Chávez Humanitarian Award from Adelante, where she did volunteer work and could be seen at fundraisers galore. She was also a member of the Spanish American Organization and Latins United. There was rarely a Latino cause or nonprofit organization that she did not support in some way.

Ms. Rodríguez was a powerful force within the Lucas County Democratic Party, working tirelessly to support candidates on the campaign trail, helping with party fundraisers, and doing much of the behind-the-scenes work of a political activist that often goes unnoticed.

“We are truly saddened to hear of her passing. She had been a warrior for the entire Toledo area, the Latino community, and our party over the years,” wrote party chairman Kurt Young on the Facebook page of the Lucas County Democrats. “Our prayers are with all of her loved ones.”

Ms. Rodríguez was preceded in death by her husband in 1974, by son Richard in 2014, and by son Robert in 2017.  She is survived by three daughters and two sons, three brothers and a sister, 23 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass was held Friday morning, Oct. 11, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/15/19 20:16:10 -0700.

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