Regina Mancusi Wills passed away on September 20, 2019. The cause of death was cancer. She leaves behind her husband of 46 years, Ashley; their son Zachary, daughter-in-law Susan, and grandson Preston, all of New York City; daughter Olivia, son-in-law Mark and grandson Fletcher, all of Los Angeles; a big sister, Madeline, of Medina, Ohio; and a beloved Sussex Spaniel, Miss Bee. Gina’s parents, Joe and Aggie Mancusi, passed away several years ago.
Born in 1949, Gina was raised in New York and Connecticut. She was a sparkler from the getgo, winning praise and ribbons for her prose, poetry, her musical and dramatic talents, and her wit. (She could have had a career as a comedienne!) Gina was also a cutie pie, with gorgeous eyes, an electric smile, and killer legs.
Gina matriculated at Sweet Briar College in 1967. She chose it for its beauty, its academic rigor, and for the opportunity to have a cross-cultural experience in the American South. Sweet Briar students frequently dated at the University of Virginia, and on a visit to Charlottesville in her third year, she met Ashley, also in his third year, a Georgian by background. They were both full of sass and spirit and eager for love. They dated for the rest of their college years and married 18 months after graduation.
In the meantime, Ashley had joined the Foreign Service and the new couple happily embarked on this exciting adventure together. For the next 34 years, they lived successively in Bucharest, Romania, Durban, South Africa, Barbados, Yugoslavia, Belgium, India and Sri Lanka. Gina loved the Foreign Service for the romance, the frequent encounters with the exotic, and the opportunity to learn languages - she learned them seemingly by osmosis! - and to represent the U.S. proudly. Along the way, they had their two beautiful children.
Like most Foreign Service spouses, Gina worked in various capacities in U.S. embassies: as an academic exchange officer, a student counselor, as the founder of a dance school, the builder of a brownie troupe, as an art teacher, a personnel officer, a TOEFL instructor and finally, as a press officer for the Bureau of Refugees at the State Department. She also earned her M.S. as a school psychologist, a degree that channeled her natural skill in communicating with children.
To understate it by a country mile, Gina was easy to love. She was attractive, well-spoken, humorous and respectful of differences. She radiated an essential sweetness. Foreigners quickly became friends of Gina. She was incapable of speaking down to anyone. In other words, Gina had a magnetic appeal that served her, her husband, her family, and our nation very, very well. Everyone liked Gina; many adored her. She was the best of us.
Further information about a memorial service being planned for November 9, 2019 in Washington, DC will be available on GinaWills.com or by phone at 703-677-8442 or by email at RememberingGinaWills@gmail.com. If you would like to make a donation in her honor, please consider Sweet Briar College or any charity devoted to protecting animals.