Jane Barbosa remembered as ‘big part of Elgin’

Jane Barbosa, an influential and well-known member of the Mexican and Latin American community in Elgin, died on June 25 at Sherman Advocate Hospital. She was 75.

Born in Cerritos, San Luis Potosi, Barbosa emigrated from Mexico with her family when she was a child. The family initially worked in the migrant agricultural cycle. She and her brother Manuel, who would later become a groundbreaking federal judge, picked cotton in Texas and sugar beet in Nebraska before their 10th birthday. In 1957 the family settled in Elgin.

“She came from a humble background and has always remained very humble,” said long-time friend Jaime Garcia, manager of the Centro de Informacion in Elgin.

Jane Barbosa worked at Chicago Rawhide and ReMax Horizon before spending nearly 20 years as a recruiter and minority affairs coordinator at Elgin Community College. At the ECC she founded the Organization of Latin American Students and the annual Latino Heritage Breakfast.

“Jane was someone who didn’t go to college but nothing could stop her,” said Rose Martinez, a member of Elgin City Council. Martinez said her family has been close to the Barbosas since the 1960s.

“She will remain unforgettable to me,” said Martinez. “Life without her is hard to imagine. She was part of our family and a big part of Elgin.”

Barbosa was deeply involved with St. Joseph Catholic Church in Elgin and countless organizations, including the National Council of La Raza, and was a past chairman of the Illinois Migrant Council.

“You couldn’t go anywhere with Jane without meeting someone who knew her,” said her sister Lilia Feliciano. “Somebody always had to stop her from chatting because she knew so many people and helped so many people.”

Garcia said Barbosa has been a longtime ambassador for the Centro de Informacion. In 2012 she received the charitable award.

“She has been a pillar of the community over the years,” said Garcia, who added that he has known Barbosa since around 1970. “The first two words that come to mind when I think of Jane are warm and caring,” he said. “Especially for those in need.”

Barbosa’s sister Elisa Aviña said this trait was instilled in them by their parents.

“They taught us how to give back to your community, and I think everyone in our family did it in their own way,” she said. “Mom and Dad were very proud of their Mexican heritage, but very grateful to the United States for the opportunities they had here.”

On Wednesday there will be a visit to the Laird Funeral Home from 4pm to 9pm, with a rosary at 7.30pm. A funeral mass will take place on Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Catholic Church of St. Joseph. Barbosa’s son Raul said she was a huge fan of Mexican culture, including the music of Norteño and Tejano. A mariachi will perform outside the church after the funeral.