Two things mattered most to Kelly A. Timilty, “family and public service,’’ said her brother Greg.
The oldest daughter of her generation in a storied Boston political clan, Ms. Timilty was elected to nine consecutive terms on the Governor’s Council.
First elected in 1994, she was reelected most recently by a wide margin in 2010.
“I know it’s a cliché nowadays, but for her, it really was about public service,’’ said her brother, who worked on her campaigns. “It takes a special person to sit there and take the amount of attacks she did, smile, and be gracious about it. She had this amazing grace about her, and she dug deep during those times.’’
Ms. Timilty died yesterday morning in Massachusetts General Hospital after a brief hospitalization, according to a statement issued by her family, which did not disclose a cause of death. She was 49 and lived in Dedham.
She had not attended the weekly meeting of the Governor’s Council since Nov. 16, according to records. She represented the council’s Second District, which includes part of Boston and reaches west into Framingham and south to Seekonk.
Earlier in her political career, Ms. Timilty worked on the staff of US Representative J. Joseph Moakley, Democrat of South Boston.
“Kelly Timilty served her district and the Commonwealth proudly for many years,’’ Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, who presides over the Governor’s Council meetings, said in a statement. “As a member of the Governor’s Council and staff for former congressman Moakley, she will be remembered for her good work and commitment to public service. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.’’
Terrence W. Kennedy, who served with Ms. Timilty on the Governor’s Council, called her “a kind, thoughtful person.’’
“She was very personable, very friendly,’’ Kennedy said. “She always made it a point when she saw you to come over and talk. She would always ask about your family and how things were going.’’
Ms. Timilty was reelected to her ninth two-year term on the council in 2010, even after admitting that her campaign used an endorsement message, photo, and signature of Governor Deval Patrick on a voter postcard without his permission. She paid an $8,000 fine for violating campaign laws.
Apologizing for the campaign postcard, Ms. Timilty said she had wrongly inferred that she had the governor’s endorsement because of their interactions during several events.
“My campaign made a mistake sending out a campaign mailing that appeared to be a letter signed by Governor Patrick endorsing my candidacy,’’ Ms. Timilty said in a statement when she agreed to pay the fine and to obtain any endorser’s consent in writing for the next four years. “I have spoken to the governor and conveyed my apology and regret.’’
Her campaign staff said she had not authorized the card. Nevertheless, Ms. Timilty took responsibility.
“I can’t blame anybody but myself,’’ she told the Globe in 2008, adding: “It’s my campaign, my mistake.’’
In a statement yesterday, the governor called Ms. Timilty a “kind and friendly person who loved public service and was an effective voice for her constituents on the Governor’s Council. She will be sorely missed by those who worked with her over her many years of dedicated service.’’
After the postcard gaffe, a group of Democrats started a petition urging Ms. Timilty to not run for reelection.
But she “was not going to go out like that,’’ her brother said. She faced a challenging campaign against well-financed opponents and won.
“That’s the thing I’m most proud of, how she handled it,’’ Greg said.
Ms. Timilty’s roots in politics ran deep. She was the daughter of Joseph F. Timilty, a former Boston city councilor and state senator who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Boston three times against Kevin H. White. Her great grandfather James P. “Diamond Jim’’ Timilty was a state senator and Roxbury political powerhouse.
Her brother James E. Timilty is a state senator from Walpole, and her cousin Walter F. Timilty is a state representative.
Growing up campaigning for her father, she attended St. Gregory’s Grammar School in Dorchester, Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, and the University of Maryland. She landed a job with Moakley after college.
The Governor’s Council was a male bastion when Ms. Timilty arrived in 1994 with a new wave of four female members, including Cynthia Creem of Newton.
“I’m very sad about her untimely death,’’ said Creem, who is now a state senator. “I enjoyed working with her. You could joke with her.
“She didn’t have a lot to say, but when she said something, she thought about it, and it was worthwhile.’’
In 1999, Ms. Timilty married James L. Mandeville. It has been a difficult time for the family. Mandeville’s mother, Mary, of Roslindale, died Dec. 19 at 87.
In addition to her husband, her parents, Joseph and Elaine, and her brothers Greg of Boston and James of Walpole, Ms. Timilty leaves other three brothers, Joseph of Canton and Patrick and Bart, both of West Roxbury; and a sister, Kara of South Boston.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday in Saint Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury.