The Fairfield community is mourning the loss of a beloved professor, colleague and friend. On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui was killed in a car crash in Miami. She was 48.

Gil-Egui and her husband, Jose Martin Labrador, 52, were being picked up by Gil-Egui’s brother and mother, Miguel Gil and Gisela Margarita Egui Hernandez, from Miami International Airport. The accident occurred on I-95 northbound when a driver heading south on the northbound hit their vehicle.

Gil-Egui received her bachelor’s degree from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and her master’s and doctorate from Temple University. Gil-Egui has taught at Fairfield for the past 12 years. In a statement released to the University, President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. wrote that Gil-Egui “taught courses focusing on globalization of mass media and information, mass media, and society, and other subjects,” in addition to assisting students with research and collaborating with faculty on projects.

On Monday, Jan. 25, a mass was held at noon at the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, followed by a memorial service at 1:00 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts and an informal gathering at the Levee at 7:30 p.m.

The memorial in the Quick Center honored the lives of both Gil-Egui and Labrador through a number of photo montages, songs and eulogies. Members of both Fairfield and Housatonic Community College, the school where Labrador taught, spoke on behalf of the couple, and their fondest memories of them.

“Prof. Gil-Egui and I both started working at Fairfield the same year, in 2004,” said Father Mark Scalese, S.J. “While we taught in different departments, I always found her to be so friendly and warm and supportive as a colleague. She was such a caring mentor to her students. We always talk about how important cura personalis is as a Jesuit value at Fairfield, and Prof. Gil-Egui was a shining example of how to do that well.”

Other professors had connected with the two of them on a more emotional, private level.

“Before Dec. 30, when the world was too much for me, I would go to Jose and Gisela and they would nurse me back to health, said Dr. David Crawford, professor of sociology and anthropology. “Some of the nursing involved tequila. But their best medicine was laughter. They would heal me — in Gisela’s case — by teasing me.”

One of the student tributes at Gil-Egui and Labrador’s memorial, Alejandro “Lex” Ulloa ‘14, organized an informal gathering in the Levee. He was a former student of hers whose life was greatly impacted by Gil-Egui. Roughly 50 people showed up to this event, filled with Venezuelan delicacies, live music, and memorials from people who knew her.

A few days after she had passed away, I knew that a lot of people were going through the same thing I was going through, and I knew that the best thing to get out of that funky state of mind was to do something positive, something that would bring people together, something that would make us happy even for a brief moment,” said Ulloa.

Many students were also saddened by the passing of Gil-Egui, those who had her as well as those who may have shared experiences with her. Senior Kristen Feige, on remembering her time with Gil-Egui, said “I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take a class with Professor Gil-Egui. She was an amazing professor — her enthusiasm was infectious and her passion for communication studies undoubtedly rubbed off on a number of students. Not only that, it was clear that she truly cared about her students and wanted them to succeed. She will truly be missed.”

Senior Claire Csenge had the pleasure of traveling to Cuba with Gil-Egui, and said that Gil-Egui was the person that motivated her to continue studying Spanish as well as graduate with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Senior Carina Nieto concurred with Csenge, as she also had the pleasure of traveling with Gil-Egui on an immersion trip to Nicaragua. “As a film major also enrolled in the honors program here at Fairfield, I knew my options to study abroad were limited given the amount of experience needed in the industry to obtain a job … In more ways than one Gisela has shaped me to evolve into a filmmaker, a person with an open mind, as someone willing to connect with others, and as person to let her hair down every chance she gets. Gisela truly was and is a role model.”

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.