To the University of Massachusetts Boston, Gina Cappello was the vice chancellor who led successful fund-raising efforts. To her family, she was a selfless mother who had taken up golfing and had a smile that radiated optimism.
"She was always there for you," said Nanette Campo, her older sister. "She'd take charge when she needed to. We have a very close family. Family was everything to her."
Cappello died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a multicar crash in Oxford. Her partner, Daniel Sullivan, a 53-year-old truck driver for Transgas Inc. from Oxford, was pronounced dead at the scene on Memorial Day. The two were walking when struck by one of the vehicles involved in the crash.
The two were just getting to know each other, Campo said. She thought he was a nice and sweet man.
Born in Somerville, Cappello was the youngest of four siblings. She had two older brothers, Pasquale and Frank, along with her sister.
Campo said she was her best friend and confidante.
Cappello went to Northeastern University for undergraduate studies and earned an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, Campo said.
She was married to Charles Cappello for 26 years and raised two daughters — Kristina and Gabrielle — in Andover, her sister said.
"First and foremost, she was the most dedicated mother to her children. That was her first ambition . . . to always be there for them," Campo said. "Her girls were her best friends. They did everything together."
While raising her family, Cappello worked at UMass Boston and used her fund-raising expertise, Campo said.
Cappello started at the university in 2007 as assistant vice chancellor for major gifts and was appointed vice chancellor for university advancement in 2012.
"She was very, very involved and definitely enjoyed the work, the people she worked with, and the recognition of UMass," Campo said.
Kristina and Gabrielle both recently graduated from college, Campo said. Kristina earned her master's in social work from Boston College and Gabrielle studied criminal justice at SNHU, the school her mother attended.
A graduation party for them was one of the last times the family was together, Campo said.
"Her unconditional love will be missed," she said. "We're all going to miss her."