SPRING VALLEY — After battling an extended illness, Bureau County Board member Rob Pozzi, 51, died Wednesday morning at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
Pozzi was elected to the Bureau County Board in 2000 and took his seat in December of that year. He represented District 24, which includes the western portion of Spring Valley and rural areas toward DePue.
A family man, a leader in the Democratic party, a problem-solver and more ... colleagues and friends didn't hesitate to describe a man who they called passionate in all aspects of life.
"We went to kindergarten together. We made our first communions together. We were friends for life. He's one of the best friends I've ever had. We've been friends for 50 years," said Illinois State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley.
"He had a great passion for everything in life. He loved family, and he loved fun. But he could be very serious when necessary with the county board and with his business," he said.
Mautino said he was a people person and integral to the Democrat Party in Bureau County.
"He loved politics. He made the county board meetings fun and interesting. He was always well-prepared, and he understood his issues. And he had the ability to persuade people to bring them around to his thinking.
"I think he would like to be remembered as a good father, a strong husband and a good man," Mautino said. "I lost a great friend."
Dean Devert of Ladd said he had known Pozzi since high school, and the two have been close friends for the last 15 years. Pozzi was in his wedding. Pozzi was someone he could count on and vice versa, Devert said.
He described his friend as "witty, intelligent, unafraid and charismatic."
Devert also served on the Bureau County Board member with Pozzi for a time. As a county board member, Pozzi didn't shy await from the big issues, and no one ever had to wonder where he stood on an issue, Devert said.
As a family man, Devert said Pozzi loved his wife and daughter. Pozzi knew it was a blessing when his daughter was born. Pozzi had always loved horses, and his daughter developed a love for horses as well. They did a lot of horse shows together.
When asked how he thought his friend would like to be remembered, Devert talked about the things that made Pozzi unique.
"I think Rob would like to be remembered as being one-of-a-kind, for not being afraid," Devert said. "He went into anything he did 100 percent, and he was usually successful in everything he did."
Mary Jane Marini of Spring Valley has known Pozzi and his wife and their families for years. Marini also served on the Bureau County Board with Pozzi.
"What I liked about Rob was the fire and feistiness that he always had. I didn't always agree with Rob, but I always appreciated his fire. And he always had a means to support his opinion. He wasn't afraid to make a statement, and he would pursue it with a diligence," Marini said. "He was a man of the people."
She will remember how Pozzi sat on the front row, end seat, at county board meetings, and how he would twirl around in his seat, listen to others, and then express his opinions. Marini said Pozzi had a way of bringing the topic right back to the main point. He was a good board member, she said.
"Rob was feisty and had fire, but all that was combined with compassion," Marini said.
Above all, Pozzi was a devoted family man and devoted to his daughter, she said.
Former Bureau County Board member Korter "Butch" Moran sat next to Pozzi at county board meetings. The two were colleagues and friends.
"The recent death of our friend and Bureau County Board member Rob Pozzi is just a reminder that life is short, to say the least," Moran said. "Rob was a very responsible individual and also a very loyal friend. We served on the Bureau County Board together, and the one thing we could all count on from Rob was he would share his vast knowledge of what was going on with the other board members.
"Honesty and integrity were his best friends," Moran added. "How sad that we lost a friend and a leader in our county."
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.