Emilio Berrios Matos

May 22, 1920 ~ November 12, 2022 (age 102) 102 Years Old


Emilio Berrios Matos, 102, of Aurora, IL passed away surrounded by his family on November 12, 2022. He was born on May 22, 1920 in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico the son of Bernave and Fransisca (Matos) Berrios. He proudly served his country with the US Army. 

On June 13, 1951, Emilio Berrios arrived to the US in a cargo plane. Shortly after establishing in Aurora, on July 4, 1951, he began to work earning $1.25 per hour at one of the only factories in Aurora that would hire latinos – “Papelera” (Aurora Paperboard).  

After a year of working like “slaves” he and other co-workers decided to take a stand and get the Department of Labor involved.  

It was at this time Emilio began a movement, fighting for the rights of the Latino workforce in Aurora.  During the process, he was fired, and with the help of the Union was later reinstated. Contract negotiations began and protest took place for 2 months, causing temporary company shut down. 

In 1964 he attended the District 50 United Mine Workers 2nd convention at the Sheraton Hotel in DC, he was the only Hispanic representative.  That same year, Emilio, among Marie Wilkinson and representatives of other minority groups worked in Human Commission Relations negotiations with representatives of Caterpillar and Western Electric.  Negotiations had favorable outcomes, reaching decisions where the 2 companies agreed to hire a limited number of Latinos.

During 1957-1970, he worked the “Papelera” and was elected president to the labor union by District 50 United Mine Workers of America.

In 1970 he left Aurora Paperboard, and began working at Nabisco, from where he retired in 1987. Emilio was a pioneer and fought hard for Latino rights.

Emilio loved cooking, dancing, gardening and especially loved his sweets. He will deeply missed but his legacy will live on in each of the lives he touched.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Maria; children, Maria (Nelson) Miranda, Carmen Berrios, Gloria (Raymond) Martinez, Ana (Arcenio) Torres, Marta (Gregorio) Martinez, Virgen Milagros Berrios, Ruben (Carmen) Berrios, Juan Jose Berrios, Jose Juan (Millie) Berrios, William (Laurie) Berrios, Cynthia Berrios, Mary Frances (William) Stearns, Margaret (Richard) Howie, Cris Vargas and Edwin Torres. He is also survived by several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great- grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, first wife Isabel Rivera, daughter, Rosemary Berrios and several siblings.

Family will be receiving guests on Thursday, November 17, 2022 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Dieterle Memorial Home, 1120 S. Broadway Ave. Montgomery, IL 60538. Funeral Mass will be on Friday, November 18, 2022 at 10:00 AM at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 308 High Street Aurora, IL 60505. Burial will follow at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Aurora, IL.

For directions and online guestbook visit


November 17, 2022

3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Dieterle Memorial Home
1120 South Broadway
Montgomery, IL 60538

Funeral Mass
November 18, 2022

10:00 AM
St. Nicholas Catholic Church
308 High Street
Aurora, IL 60505


Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery


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