November 16, 2021

Sharing the loss of board member Roberto Flores

Former board member Roberto Flores with board member Pemba Bayo at a table during a gala event

We’re sorry to share the loss of our board member Roberto Flores on October 6.

Roberto joined the Heartland Health Centers board over the summer of 2018 and was a respected colleague and a good friend. Most recently, Roberto played a vital role in selecting  Nicole Willis to be our new CEO as an invaluable member of the Search Committee.

Roberto and I joined the governing board at the same time and had a kinship from our onboarding experience,” recalls  Matt Katzfey, who serves on the board and as development board chair. “He was always extremely prepared, very thorough in his processes and had a keen eye toward what it means to serve the mission for Heartland Health Centers.”

The family shared this celebration of his life:

Roberto Flores, 68 years young, of Chicago, IL, passed away Wednesday, October 6, 2021. He was born June 13, 1953, to Natividad Flores and Mary Lou Madrigal, both deceased. He entered Northwestern Hospital on September 8. After several diagnostic tests, he was diagnosed with stage 4 CDC cancer, a rare kidney related cancer.

He graduated at the University of Michigan in 1976 and held several executive management positions with Sears, Linens and Things, Pak Mail, and Brooks Brothers. He left his management position in Chicago to move to Toledo, Ohio to care for his ailing mother. There he studied to become a CNA to provide better care for her. After she passed, his desire to give compassionate care to those in need, brought Roberto back to Chicago and he found a new calling of “doing the Lord’s work,” at Little Sisters of the Poor-St. Mary’s Home.

Roberto took a weekend position as a CNA where he was well loved by those for whom he cared. He found this particularly rewarding. During his eight years of service, Roberto felt a deeper calling and was received into the Association Jeanne Jugan – a lay organization dedicated to assist the Little Sisters in serving the needy elderly according to the spirit of St. Jeanne Jugan. After dedicated years as an Associate and employee, he officially retired August 27 from Little Sisters of The Poor.

During his final illness, he requested to be transferred to St Mary’s Little Sisters of the Poor for his hospice care. A place he called “home.” Roberto went “home” on October 6 at 12:30 p.m. There was a constant flow of family, Sisters, residents, and friends during the 8 hours he was “home.”  He passed peacefully that evening at 8:10pm to his “heavenly home,” surrounded by his immediate family and his beloved family of Sisters and staff at St Mary’s Church. Services were held.

Roberto loved the Lord and practiced his Catholic upbringing and faith daily. He often volunteered, helping those who make up the extended family at Little Sisters of the Poor.  Fr. Michael Ruthenberg, OP, spoke at the Mass and with tearful emotion recounted his struggle with poor health. Fr. Mike shared that while he himself was in a coma, Roberto would stop by the hospital every day after work to pray for him. Roberto was a selfless man and offered unconditional love to everyone.

Roberto was such a proud, strong man. He never wavered in his belief and faith in Christ and mankind.  Few were aware of his long hard battles with the many health issues he endured over the past few years. He had overcome battles with heart attacks, stroke, by-pass, pacemaker, diabetes, anemia, and kidney failure. All of which complicated and ultimately led to his last and final battle with CDC kidney cancer.

Our condolences to his family and heartfelt thanks for his leadership in our community.

Photo above: Roberto Flores, left, with fellow board member Pemba Bayo at a Heartland Health Centers gala event.