Rosie Ortega-Greco, a native Santa Rosan who graduated from Roseland schools before returning to become the school district's top business official, died Wednesday at her Santa Rosa home of breast cancer. She was 43.

Born March 14, 1969, Rosie was the fourth of seven children born to Dolores "Lola" and Leopoldo Ortega.

Ortega-Greco attended Sheppard Elementary School, Cook Junior High and Piner High School before going on to study Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University and the University of Southern California Rossier Schools of Education. She also studied at Golden Gate University to become a paralegal.

She began working as a school secretary at Roseland Elementary School nearly two decades ago. She became an accounts payable clerk and eventually was promoted to district business manager.

Ortega-Greco was honored in 2003 as the top school business manager in Sonoma County.

Ortega-Greco played a key role in the growing district's expansion as it opened three new campuses: Roseland University Prep in 2004, and Roseland Collegiate Prep and Roseland Creek Elementary School in August, according to Roseland Superintendent Gail Ahlas.

"As a former Roseland School District student herself, she had a huge heart for the students and parents," Ahlas said in an email. "Rosie was an inspiration of hope and strength."

In December, 1989, Rosie met Nicolo Greco.

"I fell in love with her at Graziano's in Petaluma. It was our first date," he said. "She was young, she was beautiful with big brown eyes and long beautiful, black hair and a beauty mark on her cheek. She was such a pleasant person to be around."

The pair were married June 23, 1990.

Ortega-Greco was a masterful chef, making traditional Mexican dishes from family recipes as well as Italian staples learned from her husband's roots.

Ortega-Greco reveled in the role of hostess, often inviting her six brothers and sisters, their children, and her husband's extended family to their Santa Rosa property for holiday gatherings, Nicolo Greco said.

"She would make everything from scratch," he said of her famous tamales, lasagne, linguine and cioppino.

"She was very intelligent, very loving," he said.

In addition to her husband and mother, Ortega-Greco is survived by her daughter Alexandria Greco of Santa Rosa; sons Nicolo Greco and Leopoldo Greco, both of Santa Rosa; her stepdaughter Demetria Greco of Sacramento; brothers Leo Ortega and David Ortega, both of Sebastopol, Carlos Ortega and Adolfo Ortega, both of Santa Rosa; and sisters Evelia Ortega and Erica Ortega-Haas, both of Santa Rosa.

Family and friends are invited to attend a visitation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday with a rosary at 5:30 p.m. at Eggen & Lance Chapel, 1540 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Rose Catholic Church, 398 10th St. in Santa Rosa. A committal will follow at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 2930 Bennett Valley Rd.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Memorial Hospice, 821 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA., 95401.

— Kerry Benefield

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