, a 32-year veteran of and resident of Channahon, died Friday night, nearly a year after suffering a debilitating stroke during surgery, his family said.
Aguilar, 58, was the most senior member of the RHS English department and coached girls basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer and softball. He was best known for his success as a girls basketball coach, winning the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Association District Coach of the Year honor three years in a row, according to his sister, Linda Mikuta.
“It was his love,” Mikuta said of the team, which he mentored both on the court and off.
Known for his strong work ethic, the resident wore many hats, working as a sportswriter, entertainment reporter and real estate agent.
“He started working when he was 15 and he didn’t stop,” Mikuta said. “He was always working two to three jobs.”
He and his wife of 37 years, LaVae, also had a passion for traveling.
Aguilar was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and moved to Chicago when he was in third grade.
Because he didn’t speak any English, he was placed in a kindergarten class — but that didn’t deter him from learning or hold him back for very long, his sister said.
“In a couple weeks, he was back up in third grade,” Mikuta said. “He was always a hard worker.”
He instilled his work ethic and passion for education in the players he coached, emphasizing the importance of going to college.
“He had been a mentor and motivator for so many students,” Mikuta said, adding he went so far as to help financially struggling students achieve their dreams of higher education.
During Aguilar’s illness, many community members came forward with stories of the beloved coach’s generosity — acts of kindness that even his closest relatives did not know about, Mikuta said.
“We heard so many stories of families that were financially struggling that he helped [their students] get into college,” she said. “What was amazing is that we didn’t even know about it — that’s just the type of person he was.
“He was so giving and loving and helped so many people without even letting us know.”
Aguilar was due to retire in May, but was sidelined after suffering unexpected complications from a surgery to remove several aneurysms in September 2010. The teacher and coach suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed.
A dedicated family man, Aguilar is survived by wife LaVae; his three children, Renee, Anthony and Vincent Aguilar; mother Eva Aguilar, granddaughters Michaela and Marisa; brother James (Sharon) Aguilar; sisters Laura (Victor) Juarez, Leticia (Jose) Torres, Lolita (Jesse) Chavez, Linda (Keith) Mikuta and Patricia (Ruben) Garcia. Numerous nieces, nephews and cousins also survive. Aguilar was preceded in death by his father, Jose Aguilar.
Visitation for Aguilar is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Tezak Funeral Home, 1211 Plainfield Road, Joliet.
Funeral services are slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, at , 24500 S. Navajo Drive, Channahon.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in Aguilar’s name to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3A, Short Hills, New Jersey, 07078.