ADRIAN - Elvira Rodriguez, coordinator and director of bilingual education in Lenawee County and a longtime bilingual teacher in Blissfield Community and Adrian Public schools, died Tuesday in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ypsilanti, Mich. She was 56.
Mrs. Rodriguez died of complications from diabetes, her son, Jonathan, said. She was a patient in the hospital for about five days, and had been in declining health for several years.
She emigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 9 years old, her daughter, Abbie Rodriguez-Crayne, said.
Her experiences in learning to speak and read English left her with a lifelong interest in helping other Spanish-speaking immigrants learn English, so they could make a successful transition into American life.
Mrs. Rodriguez graduated from Adrian High School in 1962, married Vicente Rodriguez in August, 1962, attended Siena Heights College, Adrian, reared a family, and received a bachelor's degree in education from Adrian College in 1979, her son said.
While she pursued her college studies part time to receive a teaching certificate, Mrs. Rodriguez began teaching bilingual Sunday school for adults at Bethany Assembly Church of God, Adrian.
Her daughter said teaching at church proved useful when Mrs. Rodriguez began teaching bilingual education to kindergarten through 12th graders in Blissfield, and later in Adrian.
“She was a very, very committed mother and wife at home. She was committed to the furtherance of Hispanic education for children and adults in Lenawee County,” her daughter said. “She was proud of her children, because we learned what she had taught us, and she was completely happy with her grandchildren.”
Mrs. Rodriguez helped organize, and for many years coordinated and directed, an education program for migrant children who came with their parents to Lenawee County to harvest crops.
Her son said his mother already was planning this summer's bilingual education program, which was slated to involve Mrs. Rodriguez in another annual “outreach program” to find migrant children and adults interested in attending summer classes.
“She didn't leave her [teaching] job with Adrian Public Schools until a couple of weeks ago,” her son said. “She was getting ready to teach the migrant kids and their parents in Spanish and English this summer, just like she had done for many, many years.”
Surviving are her husband, Vicente; daughter, Abbie Rodriguez-Crayne; sons, Ruben, Jonathan, Jeremias, and James; sister, Aurelia Camacho; brothers, Guadalupe and Manuel Vallejo, and 14 grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Purse Funeral Home, Adrian, where the body will be after 6 tonight. The family requests tributes to the American Diabetes Association or the Gift of Life Foundation.