As Real as They Came
Lucia Capodilupo, who died on Monday of injuries sustained in a car crash, was a major force in advancing the College’s research and community outreach programs. She was also the author of a widely read book on spiritualism and weight loss; an ordained minister who had presided at the weddings of TC co-workers; and an admired and much-loved family member, friend and colleague.
“Lucia’s death is a tragic loss, but her life is one to admire, as she was living it to the fullest,” wrote TC President Susan Fuhrman in a note to the community.
Capodilupo joined TC six years ago as Director in the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, which develops and maintains relationships with grant-making organizations that have funding interests that match the College’s mission and programs. Funding secured by the Office supports a range of initiatives and programs at the College, including scholarships for graduate students preparing for urban teaching careers; renovation of the physical plant; local and national professional development programs for in-service teachers; partnerships with schools in Harlem, the Bronx and other surrounding areas; and research on critical issues in education.
The Office raised over $16 million in 2008, with TC partner organizations such as Say Yes to Education and Math for America for benefiting directly from Capodilupo’s efforts.
But, as Fuhrman wrote in her community message, Capodilupo’s accomplishments on the job do not begin to describe who she was.
In 1999, Capodilupo, who held a Ph.D. in Russian literature from Yale University, published Thin Through the Power of Spirit: Creating Paradise in Your Weight and World, (DeVorss Publications) a primer on weight loss through spirituality, visualization and guided imagery. The book was well received, and Capodilupo – who herself had lost 95 pounds – went on to lecture and lead seminars on the topic. The essence of her approach was optimistic, self-forgiving and forward-looking.
“Even if the words of your affirmation do not seem like an accurate description of your current state, know that they are true on the spiritual level and that your physical reality will soon reflect this newly apprehended spiritual truth,” she writes. “If you fill your consciousness with this higher truth rather than with your old statements, your current state will shift to reflect your higher consciousness, and you will become contented and at peace.”
Capodilupo brought that same spirit to her efforts as a minister.
“The ceremony that Lucia performed was beautiful, sweet, perfect,” recalled Jen Charlesworth (nee Lackow), Associate Director of Development Research and Prospect Management, at whose wedding in May 2008 Capodilupo performed as minister. Charlesworth and Capodilupo were close colleagues who sat at adjoining desks for several years. “But more importantly for me then, she was, as she always had been for me, a source of calmness, and of sincere and thoughtful advice.”
Associate Vice Provost Katie Embree, at whose January 2007 wedding Capodilupo also officiated, echoed those sentiments. “I was so honored when Lucia agreed to officiate at mine and Drew’s wedding,” Embree said. “She already knew me well but also took the time to get to know Drew so that her words were truly meaningful to both of us. She made the ceremony warm and loving. We can’t believe that she’s gone.”
Throughout the day on Tuesday, colleagues and friends shared memories of Capodilupo with one another and on a special site created in her honor by TC’s Office of the Web.
“When my Mom passed away a few years ago, I don’t know if I could have made it through without Lucia,” wrote Terri Ruiz, Office Manager in the Department of Development and . “Her counsel and prayers helped me through the most difficult period of my life, and I will be forever grateful to her. She was truly blessed and shared her blessings graciously. I will miss her dearly.
“One thing I’ll always remember about Lucia was her genuineness,” wrote Mark Lee, Assistant Director of Major Gifts. “One could not be in her presence without feeling that superlative human quality shining through. She was as real as they came. Whenever we would have a conversation—be it work-related or outside interests -- I always felt that she was truly interested in what I was saying. With her warm, unforgettable smile and calm demeanor, an exchange of thoughts with her was always a pleasurable experience. I will truly miss her.”
But perhaps Maudeline Swaray, Information Processing Assistant, put it most succinctly. “She always helped to brighten my day whenever we walked pass one another. I pray that she rests in perfect peace.”
To view comments about Capodilupo or add your own, visit http://blogs.tc.columbia.edu/lucia/.
Published Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2009