TRENTON, N.J. – Dina Matos McGreevey (search) stood frozen in place as her husband of nearly four years, the governor of New Jersey, dealt her a series of potentially marriage-ending blows: He is gay, he had an extramarital affair with a man, and the consequences of his actions leave him unable to govern.
Matos McGreevey, 38, didn't flinch during the governor's painful coming-out speech. An unreadable half-smile pasted on her face, she stood silently by the governor's side, at times holding his hand.
New Jersey's understated first lady remained a picture of composure as she lived out an epic personal crisis in the most public of forums: in front of live TV cameras in the governor's jam-packed office.
Matos McGreevey's grace under pressure came as no surprise to those who know her.
"She has always conducted herself with dignity and grace, and (Thursday) she was there by his side with dignity and grace," said Armando Fontoura, the Essex County sheriff, who has known her since high school.
"We were all very proud of her," he told The Star Ledger of Newark.
Relatives said they were surprised by the revelations.
"I don't know if she knew anything," Matos McGreevey's aunt, Aderito Paulo, told The Record of Bergen County. "If she knew, she didn't say anything to anybody."
It was not clear what the future held for the McGreeveys' marriage. Through the governor's spokesman, Matos McGreevey declined requests for an interview Friday.
The eldest of three children born to Ricardo and Maria Graciete Matos, Dina Matos was born in Portugal and raised in Newark. She attended Newark public schools and studied political science at Rutgers, though she did not graduate.
Fontoura called his longtime friend "almost as much a political junkie as Gov. McGreevey is," and said the two were very much alike.
Dina met her future husband in 1997 when she was raising money for the Democrats, and he was the mayor of Woodbridge making his first run for governor.
On Oct. 7, 2000, the volunteer fund-raiser and public relations executive wed the upwardly mobile politician on the roof of the swank Hays-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., amid views of the White House.
A year later, in December 2001, the McGreeveys had a daughter, Jacqueline, born following a difficult pregnancy that saw Matos McGreevey hospitalized for six weeks.
The child was the governor's second. He and ex-wife Kari Schutz, a school librarian who lives in British Columbia, have an 11-year-old daughter, Morag.
In divorce papers she filed in 1996, Schutz called McGreevey a workaholic who allowed his professional schedule to dictate their personal lives, the New York Post reported Friday.
In a brief interview Friday, Schutz told the Vancouver Sun the governor shared his decision to come out with her before making the announcement.
"It was courageous and we support him," Schutz said. She called McGreevey a wonderful father, and refused to answer questions about the couple's relationship.
McGreevey explained the dissolution of his first marriage to The Record of Bergen County this way: "Growing up in an almost quaint community, Kari was not ready for the rough and tumble of government and politics."
Matos McGreevey found her own way around her husband's demanding work: She kept her own life. She had a career, currently as executive director of Columbus Hospital Foundation in Newark (search).
She also became a mother and championed causes, promoting literacy and health care. She was a community servant, serving on many boards and organizations.
Politically, she remained on the sidelines, rarely appearing in public without her husband. Even so, McGreevey referred to his wife publicly as one of his most trusted advisers and said he conversed with her regularly.
Matos McGreevey seemed happiest away from the limelight. "I enjoy getting involved in wonderful causes," she said, "but I'd rather be behind the scenes."
She underscored those desires during a 2002 conversation in which she told a New York Times reporter that red was her favorite clothing color, but added, "I don't wear it too often because I feel it draws too much attention."