Danuta (Donna) Kristina Rodriguez, 76, a longtime resident of Suffern, NY, died on August 16, 2023 in Denver, CO, where she had moved to be close to her children and grandchildren in her final months.
Donna was born on February 2, 1947, daughter of Roman and Maria Tretiak, in Aberfeldy, Scotland, where her parents were living temporarily after World War II. Roman, originally from Poland, served there as a member of the Polish Armed Forces in the West. Maria had met Roman while he was fighting for the Allies in her native Italy. In later years, Donna liked to remind people that she was born in a castle – which was being used as a hospital during and after the war. The young family immigrated to the United States following the war, and Donna was raised in Englewood, NJ.
Donna graduated from Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ where she was the first woman in her family to attend college, and she often described herself as a “trailblazer.” She then embarked on a career featuring many educational roles, from elementary school teacher to substitute teacher, and finally as registrar of the Rockland Teachers’ Center Institute, obtaining a master’s degree in special education along the way. Her love of learning extended to live music, great literature, and exploring different cultures.
Donna married Roger Rodriguez on March 25, 1972, after meeting him at a science convention, and settled in Suffern, NY. The couple was always the last on the dance floor. An avid hiker, she found in Suffern a wonderful base for countless walks in the woods and trails, especially in the Lower Hudson Valley. She also loved to travel across the country to national parks and beaches – including her most recent trip last year, which included a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon with her dear friends. This sense of adventure and love of the outdoors are legacies she has handed on to her children and grandchildren.
Donna held a special place in her heart for her family, and she loved to honor and remember her Italian and Polish heritage by preparing traditional dishes for family gatherings. Especially meaningful to her was a trip she took in 1971 to visit her mother’s hometown of Cervinara, Italy and meet her relatives near Naples. She also had an amazing gift for friendship, and she treasured her many friends – both lifelong and new – in Suffern and beyond.
Donna is preceded in death by her sister Deborah Tretiak, her husband Roger Rodriguez, her brother Henry Tretiak and her brother-in-law Robert Morrison. She is survived by her brother Richard Tretiak and his wife Joyce Tretiak, of Pompton Plains, NJ; her sister Rosemary Morrison of Skillman, NJ; her sister Janet Simoes and her husband Danny Simoes of Millstone, NJ; her brother-in-law Pete Rodriguez and his wife Judy Rodriguez of Tinmath, CO; her daughter Kristina Czuchlewski and her husband David Czuchlewski of Albuquerque, NM; and her son Andrew Rodriguez and his wife Elizabeth Rodriguez of Denver, CO; and by her beloved grandchildren Talia, Abigail, Henry, Lila, and Naomi.