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Latino leader and advocate for needy dies

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 5:16 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 11:18 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK — A leader in the local Latino community known for compassion toward the needy and passion for his heritage died early Sunday morning, family members said.

Pedro Enriquez, 62, who managed the Illinois Migrant Council's Harvard office, died from heart complications.

"Our community has lost a warrior," said Maggie Rivera, his sister and state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). "The battle remains in our community, and we will continue to fight for him.

"Our family, of course, has lost a big piece of ourselves," she added.

With the Illinois Migrant Council, Enriquez worked with migrant farmworkers in an effort to get them off the field and into more stable conditions. He provided direct resources or helped workers get in touch with agencies that could help.

His work often put him in touch with Sue Rose, community service director at the McHenry County Housing Authority. They'd spoken about a client as recently as Wednesday.

"It's astounding to me that Pedro is gone," Rose said. "It's really going to impact the hispanic community as well as everyone else. He was a great, great asset to McHenry County's social services."

Away from the job, Enriquez spent more time helping others.

He was active in LULAC, and had started a council for local elderly through which elderly Latinos could stay informed and active.

He also loved and promoted his Mexican Heritage, helping to found the South of the Border Fiesta, a yearly festival on the Woodstock Square.

Growing up in Juarez, Mexico, Enriquez for a time was the man of the house, helping to look over seven younger siblings after his father moved to the United States, his sister Pam Appelquist remembered.

He came to Chicago around the age of 20 and settled in Woodstock in 1984. During family gatherings in adulthood, Enriquez would often bring joy to the group through his music, playing bass guitar with his three brothers.

"He was loved by every single one of his nieces and nephews," Appelquist said. "He's never met a stranger."

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