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Ivan Rodriguez, Told Of Life With AIDS

By Liz Doup

July 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Ivan Rodriguez, who spent his last precious months sharing his story about living with HIV, died Monday at Broward House, where he had lived for almost three years.

"He died with a smile on his face," says his daughter, Jessica Rodriguez of Fort Lauderdale. "No fear. He was totally at peace."

Mr. Rodriguez was featured in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's "AIDS in South Florida," a special section published June 8 about the HIV epidemic. Though he was infected with the virus, Mr. Rodriguez died of colon cancer.

"He felt good that he could talk about it," his daughter said. "It lifted some of the guilt associated with the disease. He wanted to help show people that education is the most important thing."

Mr. Rodriguez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1942 and came to New York City at 11, where he grew up tough.

The father of four, he remained close with only one daughter, Jessica, who was faithful to her father, helping him at every turn.

"He might not have been a father in the conventional sense, but his love was there," Jessica Rodriguez said. "I'd rather have had his love than a father who had all the money in the world."

At Broward House, Mr. Rodriguez was well-liked by many residents and staff.

"He was always in good spirits, even with all his health problems," said Gary Hensley, his social worker.

"He was an honest man who didn't pull any punches," said Joanne Hendee, director of clinical services. "You have to respect someone like that."

As Mr. Rodriguez grew sicker, his daughter stayed close.

"I said, `I'll see you tomorrow,'" she told him the day before he died. "He said, `Don't worry.' He knew. He was ready."

Jessica Rodriguez said her father's ashes will be cremated and a memorial service scheduled later.

Mr. Rodriguez is also survived by his sister, Sonia Reginello of Hollywood; Alice Ryan of New York City, Jessica Rodriguez's stepsister; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Broward House, 1726 SE Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

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