Posted online: December 29, 2004 1:05 PM
Print publication date: December 29, 2004

Mayor's Moms Luncheon in East Moline

By Jenny Lee, Dispatch/Argus Newspaper
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Photo: Terry Herbig
East Moline Mayor Joe Moreno hosted the first annual Mayor's Mom's Luncheon for a group of about 50 women who over the years have been 'surrogate' mothers to Mayor Moreno. The luncheon was served at the Windmill Restaurant on Tuesday in East Moline.

It's not unusual for a mom to have several children, but it is unusual for someone to have 35 to 40 moms.

That's the number of women who adopted East Moline mayor Joe Moreno as part of the first annual Mayor's Moms Luncheon, held at the Windmill Family Restaurant in East Moline.

Mayor Moreno said he has appreciated the wisdom and support from women, who have become surrogate moms to him, over the years.

Ald. Carol Doose, 4th Ward, handed out small rolls of paper wrapped in blue ribbons to women at the luncheon.

The roll of paper revealed a "certificate of adoption" that read, "This is to certify that (fill in name) is an honorary mother to Jose `Joe' Moreno. As there is a need to watch over and guide said Joe Moreno, you are here by decreed to assume that role.

``Joe does listen,'' said Ald. Doose, who has known the mayor for 12 years. ``Joe always seems to come from the heart.''

Mayor Moreno's mother-in-law, Wanda Jacobs, 70, of East Moline, became the first surrogate mom when her daughter, Lorna, began dating Mr. Moreno in high school.

Mayor Moreno's mother moved back to Mexico in 1989, and he said he appreciates the advice of the women around him. ``It's easy to have so many surrogate mothers. I just value people with wisdom.''

Ella May Winger, 77, East Moline, has known Mayor Moreno since he was 5 and her children used to play touch football with him. With Mayor Moreno involved in the East Moline Volunteer Corp, "he's always everywhere," said Ms. Winger, who isn't afraid to tell him exactly what she thinks.

"Can you believe he's got four grown children?" Ald. Doose asked Ms. Winger. "He's a grandfather."

"He sure don't look and act like a grandpa," Ms. Winger said.

Mayor Moreno, who is 48, has a 5-year-old grandson, Payton Miller, and a 1-year-old granddaughter Madelyn Miller.

Women like Dorothy Hill, 61, of East Moline, have expanded Mayor Moreno's knowledge of Southern cooking. She said after he attended a banquet at Gaines Chapel AME Church in East Moline and tasted a dish she made, he asked "Dorothy, what is this? This is so delicious.

"He never had cornbread dressing," said Ms. Hill, who has campaigned for Mayor Moreno.

"We all just come from different backgrounds," Ald. Doose said. "Then, he's representing everybody."