ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Earlier this year, longtime Rockford alderman Tuffy Quinonez passed away. His friend, Isidro Barrios, has taken his spot… albeit with a heavy heart.
“I miss him. I lost a real good friend,” Barrios said, calling being sworn in as Rockford’s interim 11th Ward Alderman bittersweet.
“The moment he was gone was really sad for me, because now, it’s all on one person. He had the confidence to tell me his dreams, his wishes, his vision,” he added.
Quinonez died from a stroke earlier this year, at the age of 76.
Their friendship blossomed in the early 2000’s when Quinonez reached out to help organize an event for the Hispanic Heritage Parade.
“Tuffy was a dedicated man for this town. He was a dedicated man for this ward, dedicated for a long time to the people. He was a people’s man, a great county board [member], and a great alderman,” Barrios said.
He also said that Quinonez would call him each morning.
“He said I have a resolution for next year, 2023. He said the resolution I have is that I’m going to get married. And I said, ‘So who’s your girlfriend?’ and he says, ‘The first one that comes along is going to get the ring!’ A lot of jokes, a lot of good times,” Barrios recalled.
Barrios added that along with the jokes and the anecdotes were great bits of advice.
“At least listen. “If you cannot provide much [help], at least listen to the people. Give them the hospitality, give them the honor. At least, listen. Listen, and then if you can help, do it,” he said.
Barrios said this year’s parade was a time for reflecting on those who are no longer part of our lives.
“These moments are special in life. Sometimes that feeling is happy, sometimes its sad if you’ve lost loved ones. An event like [the parade], it’s a living memory of my friend,” he said.