MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- One of those mourning the death of Milwaukee Alderman Joe Dudzik is one of his lifelong mentors, Annette Scherbert.
"Such a good friend and a real special person," said Scherbert. "Joe and I go back over 50 years. He was in my kindergarten class and I just automatically remember that little face looking up at me because he wanted to learn."
Scherbert says the young Dudzik was a quick study.
"He could write his name, some of the other kids couldn't write their name. Kindergarten you don't write your name that fast," said Scherbert.
Scherbert's role as teacher did not end when Dudzik left her classroom. In fact, she preceded him on the Milwaukee Common Council.
"When I decided because of my health I had to stop working and was going to resign as alderman, he was just a natural thought in my head who would make a wonderful alderman because he was so dedicated," said Scherbert.
When Dudzik won a special election in 2002 to take over her seat, Scherbert became more of a professional mentor to the new alderman.
"If Joe had a problem, he would call me and say, 'When you were alderman, how did you handle this?'" said Scherbert.
Scherbert says those phone calls dropped over the years as Dudzik got to know the job well. She says she will miss her friend -- and the community will miss a committed public servant.
"I feel really sorry for the City of Milwaukee, they've lost a dedicated alderman. I've lost a very, very dear and special friend. And the Dudzik family has lost a dad and a husband and a son -- and you can't replace people like that," said Scherbert.
Scherbert says Dudzik was also very committed to helping support the Special Olympics. She plans to make a donation to the organization in his name.