A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

People of NKY: Gayle Capretto is game for adventure — teaching, traveling, collecting, and on the move

By Ginger Dawson
NKyTribune reporter

The first time you set eyes on Gayle Capretto you are treated to a vision of color, pattern and a bright openness of spirit that is hard to resist. You immediately want to get to know her. And, what is so obvious is this—she wants to get to know you.

Gayle Capretto in one of her hats.

Everything about her is friendly, upbeat and fun. Few people carry this kind of affable approachability with such savoir-faire.

I think she has a sixth sense about people. She is always thinking about different ways she can make something, or some situation, better for someone. It is instinctive.

This all started at an early age. Gayle grew up in Goshen, Ohio, the oldest of three sisters and a brother. This seemed to be a family trend, as her father was the oldest of six!

Goshen, a small rural community in Clermont County was a quiet place and did not have the activity that Gayle knew was going on out there in the world. She pined for it and was very anxious to get out in it. 

She must have inherited her mother’s adventurous spirit. Gayle’s mother was a medical nurse in WW II, and she was awarded the French Medal of Honor for her work at the front. This is a serious role model. It instilled a fearlessness in her that has defined her choices in life.

Gayle’s first step out was to college, but she didn’t leave her family behind.

Gayle in front of the “Eiffel “Tower.” Note the mismatched earrings. Great personal style.

Not all of her siblings inherited the “fearless” gene. But, rather than let them stay consigned to their comfort zones, over the years she has made it her mission to draw them out and encourage them to travel and have experiences that they wouldn’t have had without her coaxing. They are always happy that Gayle has pushed them to expand their horizons.

College took her to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, where she received a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Education.  

Teaching seemed like a logical path and brought Gayle to Covington, for the first time, in 1970, when she accepted a position at Holmes High School. She was there for four years.  

Gayle’s ideas about education were more focused on practical life skills and she found that a position teaching business and law at Betz Business College was more compatible. At this time, she also took a position teaching evenings at Live Oaks, a vocational school. Her courses were medical and legal office procedures and typing.

After a few years in teaching, Gayle moved out of education and into the business world. She
worked at Data Point Corporation, an early tech company that specialized in multi-format computer platforms for offices.

A formal portrait featuring a favorite hat. Beautiful.

It is no surprise that Gayle loves to travel.

She started traveling extensively in the 1970’s and has never stopped.  

During her teaching years, the National Education Association sponsored many trips and Gayle took full advantage of this.  

The Canary Islands was one such memorable trip.  At one point during the visit, there was a cable car trip up near the top of the Tenerife volcano. It was an amazing trip, but there was a higher summit that looked as though people were striking out on foot to achieve.  

Gayle thought that since she had already come this far, why not continue on?

So she started and it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a challenge. A fellow hiker inquired how she was doing and informed her that he had been training for MONTHS for just this particular occasion.

No one can accuse Gayle of not meeting a challenge! But, she had a moment of clarity and decided, that perhaps, she should turn around. The white knuckling was done for that day.

A micro-sampling of the purse collection.

Another great journey took her to Brazil. Immediately, upon arriving, she sensed that people there were afraid of her. This was very puzzling.

This fear evolved into a sense of reverence from the local practitioners of the Candomblé religion, Brazil’s branch of Haitian Voodoo or Cuban Santeria.

Because she had red hair, she was considered to have special powers — a mystic! And also, I can’t help but think, her open, accepting personality fueled this as well. She was given special treatment and accorded privileges that were not available to others. Food and drink was hers for the asking.

The ultimate honor was when Gayle, visiting a church, was given access to a restricted third floor that featured a type of mandala the encompassed the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Spectacular Catalin (a similar plastic to bakelite) radio. Gayle loves Art deco.

After a few years in San Francisco due to her first husband’s job relocation, during which Gayle, herself, was engaged in real estate and property management, she returned to Covington. She then embarked upon a 25-year career with D.E. Foxx and Associates, a business consultation and logistics firm.

A second chance at love came in 2009. A good friend, Jack Doll, local musician, was playing piano at the Phoenix, a restaurant in Cincinnati. Jim Capretto, a customer and new arrival in town from Chicago was looking for a new beginning, himself.

Jack said to Jim, “Have I got a girl for you!”  

Gayle and Jim met on a blind date set up by Jack and the two literally never left each other’s side. They were married in November of 2009.

When Jim came on the scene, the spontaneous travel and trips kicked into high gear. It was nothing for Gayle to open a travel book, blindly stab her finger on to the page and say, “There! This is where we’re going!”  

Jim was game to accommodate and sometimes a motorcycle was in the mix.  

One such early trip on the bike included an impromptu trip to Chillicothe, Ohio — in the dead of summer — in full leathers. They did survive without heat stroke, but it was probably one of the few times that both were thrilled to end a journey.

This is but one vignette displaying some of Gayle’s collections. Her home reflects her personal style.

To this day, one of her favorite quotes: “What are we waiting for, let’s go!”

One highlight of her travels now, is her skill at photography and documenting her trips. She discovered that she had a huge following of friends on Facebook who enjoy the trips vicariously through these photos.  She found that if she didn’t keep it up, she was disappointing her audience! She always makes sure to post the day’s photos on a trip, no matter how tired she is.  

Gayle loves to collect. She has collections of jewelry, hats, handbags, art, and radios.

Known for her flamboyant, colorful personal style, she has ample opportunity to show off her collections.  Her energy and appearance are one. You can’t help but be in a better mood when you see her.

Since retirement, she has volunteered her expertise in business and life to many organizations. She has been engaged with the Business Advisory Committee in Cincinnati assisting in hiring the handicapped, The Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Junior Achievement.

Of particular note is her role as a founding member of the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame. Gayle is a long time fan and supporter of Jazz in Cincinnati. There is a lot to be proud of here.

From the beginning of her life, Gayle has proven she has a natural ability and sixth sense to help people.


If something looks like it is needed by someone, whether it be good advice for a job placement, a kind invitation or an anonymous gift, she steps up.  

She can proudly look back and savor her kindnesses with complete satisfaction. There can’t be anything better than that.

Ginger Dawson writes about the People of NKY — the neighbors you need to know and people you need to meet and understand. The feature appears periodically at the NKyTribune. If you have ideas for subjects please share them with Ginger at ginger@fuse.net.

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