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Dolores Garay Rodriguez

1940 - 2019
Dolores Garay Rodriguez Obituary
(News story) Dolores Garay Rodriguez, who helped clients, friends, and strangers find their footing - through education, a job, a meal, advice - whether she was on the job or off duty as a community activist, died Tuesday in her North Toledo home. She was 78.

She had non-alcoholic liver disease, her daughter RoseMary Reilly said. A stroke at age 73 caused Mrs. Rodriguez to retire from the former Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo, where she worked for decades, her daughter said.

Among the honors she received was the 2003 Cesar Chavez Humanitarian Award from Adelante Inc., a Latino and community resource center.

"She was one of the godmothers of the Hispanic community. There wasn't any function we had that Dolores wasn't there," said Consuelo Hernandez, a longtime friend.

Mrs. Rodriguez, encouraged by her late husband, Santos, continued her own education. She received an associate degree in child development and a bachelor's degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Toledo.

She was a preschool teacher for 10 years, she told The Blade in 1993, and worked summers teaching the children of migrant farm workers. She later worked in social service at the Guadalupe Center.

"I really think I try to make people who come here more self sufficient," she told The Blade.

She had a wide network she could contact - friends, associates, officeholders she'd supported through her work with the Lucas County Democratic Party. She didn't hesitate to say someone needed blankets or a family had nothing for Christmas or needed food to get through the week.

"When Dolores called, you didn't say no," Mrs. Hernandez said. "You knew she was genuine. You knew the money or whatever you had to give was going to someone who really needed it. She believed in La Raza - the people - and she knew there were so many people who didn't have what she had, and those of us who could afford to give back, should."

She believed her duty continued after the work day ended. "It was a calling of hers," her daughter said.

She was born Nov. 22, 1940, in San Antonio to Ramona and Cirilio Garay. She was 18 years old when she and Santos Rodriguez, Jr., married and moved to Lima, Ohio, where her husband's aunt and uncle lived. They later settled in Toledo. A devout Roman Catholic, she taught religious education classes and took part in the diocesan Hispanic ministry. For years, she was a member of the former St. Hedwig Parish.

At any event, Mrs. Hernandez said, "You saved a place for Dolores, because you knew she was coming. The party wasn't right unless Dolores was there."

Her husband died Sept. 23, 1974. Their son Richard died March 21, 2015. Son Robert died Aug. 31, 2017.

Surviving are her daughters RoseMary Reilly, Ramona Baker, and Rebecca Martinez; sons Santos Rodriguez and Richard "Little Ricky" Garay and Paulie Garay; brothers Francisco, Martin, Richard, and Lupe Garay; sister, Charlotte Ruiz; 23 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Thursday in the Urbanski Funeral Home on Lagrange Street. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Friday at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, with visitation after 10 a.m.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Oct. 9, 2019
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