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South Bend School Board member Maritza Robles has died

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Michiana is mourning the loss of 74-year-old Maritza Robles, a local leader and advocate. Friends and coworkers were stunned to hear of her sudden passing.

Her death was announced on her Facebook page Monday morning.

"It is with great sadness that we write to tell you of the death early this morning of Maritza Robles, a very beloved School Board member and long-time Director of Bilingual Education. Additional information will be shared once the arrangements have been made to honor this special woman."

Robles was also a member of the St. Joseph County Public Library Board.

The president of the St. Joseph County Public Library Board Augie Freda says Robles was caring, dedicated and irreplaceable.

"She always had a wonderful smile," Freda said. "Seem to have it at those opportune times when perhaps we were struggling with something or trying to figure something out she would just have that warm and engaging smile that kind of let you know everything is going to be okay."

He worked with Robles the last three years.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Robles earned her bachelors degree in education in her home country, then came to South Bend in 1972 and earned her master's degree at Notre Dame.

After college--she made it her mission to become a lifelong educator.

Robles began working for the South Bend Community School Corporation in 1976. She was the district’s director of bilingual services for 31 years, then came out of retirement in 2012 to serve as an at-large trustee for the school board.

Superintendent Dr Kenneth Spells released a statement Monday about Robles.

“Maritza Robles was an amazing individual who had an immeasurable positive impact on the South Bend Community School Corporation and our community as a whole. I am very saddened by her sudden passing and am holding her family in my thoughts and prayers. She was a great servant-leader for our community. We will miss her a great deal but will never forget her contributions.”

Freda says she always put the people she served first.

"An advocate for folks coming to this country and for our youth in the community as well as to immigrant families," Freda said.

On top of her dedication to the community, Freda says she was a loving mother to five adopted children.

"She’s just an exceptional person that cares deeply about the community," Freda said. "We are going to miss her terribly."

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted his condolences saying: "Deeply saddened this morning to hear of the passing of Maritza Robles, who brought wisdom and compassion to our schools and our community."

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