Maria R. Gamper, a retired administrator who had worked for investment bankers Bovaro Partners LLC died of lung cancer March 24 at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The Homeland resident was 60.
"Maria was just a wonderful friend, wife, mother, daughter and parent. She was one of the best," said Sam Wellschlager, a retired attorney for DLA Piper and a former member of the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation, of which Mrs. Gamper was a board member.
"She was vibrant and engaging, and was just a pleasure to be around," said Mr. Wellschlager. "She was an optimist and just a great person."
The daughter of John F. Rixey, an attorney, and Patricia Traugott "Patty" Rixey, Maria Traugott Rixey was born and raised in Norfolk, Va., and graduated in 1974 from Norfolk Academy. Her parents divorced, and Mrs. Rixey later married Columbia founder James Rouse.
"We grew up together in Virginia Beach, and we went to the Norfolk Academy together," said her friend Carter Franke. "Maria was one of these wonderful people who was full of life and forthright. You could count on her to tell it like it is, and you never had to worry about what she thought."
"While her name is Maria, it was pronounced 'Mariah,'" said her husband of 34 years, C. Richard "Dick" Gamper Jr., vice president of Wilmington Trust N.A. in Baltimore.
She graduated in 1978 from Sweet Briar College in Virginia with a bachelor's degree in economics. She then worked as an assistant commercial mortgage underwriter in the Washington office of Rouse Real Estate Finance, which later became PaineWebber Mortgage Finance Inc. and, finally, Columbia National Real Estate Finance.
At Rouse, her responsibilities included assisting in placement and closing of commercial financing, market research and property inspection.
"I think she was the youngest woman we had in the office at the time," said John Renner, former president of Columbia National Real Estate Finance, who was Ms. Gamper's boss.
"Maria was a great deal maker and put together a number of transactions," said Mr. Renner. "A typical underwriter puts together six or seven deals a year, which is considered pretty successful. By her second year, she did 15. They were all small, but she doubled what the others were doing and brought in new customers.
"She worked well with lenders and commercial borrowers," he said. "She was always a pleasure to be around. She laughed easily and never showed any signs of temper."
In 1981, Ms. Gamper joined PaineWebber Mortgage Finance Inc. in Baltimore as assistant vice president and associate commercial mortgage underwriter, and in 1986 was named vice president and senior commercial mortgage underwriter.
She was responsible for originating, processing and closing debt and equity financing for properties that included office buildings, warehouses, retail centers, hotels and apartments.
In 1987, she left the company and in 1999 joined Transcom Terminals Inc., a Baltimore stevedoring firm, where she was a part-time analyst and corporate administrator overseeing market research, preparation of corporate reports, coordination of insurance and workers' compensation claims and lease administration for pier facilities.
Ms. Gamper left Transcom in 2003 and worked as an administrator at Bovaro Partners, an investment banking partnership. She retired from Bovaro in 2006.
She was a founding member of CREW — Commercial Real Estate Women Inc. — and was involved in other professional associations such as the Maryland State Board of Architects and the Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association.
Ms. Gamper was an instructor for the Building Owners and Managers Institute and the Realtors Institute of Maryland.
In addition to the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation, she had been a member of the Women's Committee of the Walters Art Museum since 1989.
"I served with her for many years on the board of the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation, and she was a very effective member," said Mr. Wellschlager. "She was an important part of Jim and Patty's life."
Ms. Gamper was also active with the LUNGevity Foundation, a nonprofit promoting lung cancer awareness, research and support for those suffering from lung disease. She brought in major donors and supporters and served on various committees.
She also supported Paul's Place, City Catch and other organizations.
"She was always in control, organized and made things happen," said Ms. Franke. "She cared about the underprivileged and wanted to know how she could make a difference in their lives."
For many years, Ms. Gamper spent summer vacations at Ahmic Lake in Ontario and at Center Sandwich, N.H.
She also enjoyed spending Easter and Thanksgiving with family and friends at a second home she and her husband owned at Hunting Creek on the Eastern Shore, and visiting Virginia Beach, Va.
Ms. Gamper had been a member of the Elkridge Club, Mount Vernon Club and the Colonnade Club at the University of Virginia.
"She was an extremely accomplished tennis player and played regularly" until health problems made it impossible, her husband said. "It was a sport she loved. It was her passion."
Ms. Gamper and her husband collected works by Maryland artists. She also had a collection of rabbits rendered in paintings, crystal and porcelain.
"She fought her illness with extreme grace and courage," said Ms. Franke. "She was a wonderful friend to many, many people. We were blessed to have her in our lives."
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons, Richard Stansfield Gamper of Federal Hill and Charles Rixey Gamper of Charlottesville, Va.; a daughter, Catherine Cornick Gamper of Fells Point; and two brothers, John F. Rixey Jr. of Annapolis and J. Barbour Rixey of Virginia Beach, Va.