A bright smile, bubbly personality and contagious laugh are what most Forest Parkers will miss about Bridget Dowdle, 49, a longtime village resident and day care assistant at the Forest Park Community Center.
She died on March 7, 2015 at Rush Medical Center in Chicago from blood clot complications.
In 2004, she first began working at the Community Center, which provides activities for village residents with special attention to young children and senior citizens.
Mayor Anthony Calderone, who held a moment of silence at Monday’s village council meeting, said Dowdle naturally connected with the kids at the center’s Clubhouse Program, and she was admired by fellow staff members.
“She’ll be sorely missed. She did a fantastic job for the village working at the community center,” Calderone said.
While working at the center, Dowdle helped organize the food pantry, took care of seniors, checked up on homebound seniors and volunteered for food drives.
Karen Dylewski, director of the center, said she was loved by all parents and kids.
“Every morning they would talk to Bridget about their problems. She had a huge impact on the lives of the seniors and kids,” Dylewski said, adding that staff members at the center become very close, and her sudden passing is something they weren’t prepared for.
Just two weeks ago, her family had buried her brother, Barney Jr., 60, who died Feb. 21 from cancer.
Every Sunday after church, Bridget would call her sister Peggy at 11 a.m. to check up on her family and talk about what they each had planned for the week.
“There’s a hole in my heart for my sister. Those conversations aren’t going to be there anymore,” Peggy said. “The chain link is broken. She was the rock of the family and I’m going to miss her dearly.”
She said her sister had a heart of gold.
“If it was the last dollar in her pocket and you needed it, you got it,” Peggy said.
Her husband of 29 years, Bob, said she had a big heart, was a peacemaker and always wanted people to be happy.
The couple, who married at 19, would’ve celebrated their 30th anniversary in October.
“I’m devastated. I lost my best friend,” Bob said.