After graduation, Maureen followed her parents into civil service. She worked for a time with the FBI, then moved to the State Department, where she rose from secretary-stenographer to an assistant handling security clearances, according to a 2010 interview with Virginia Capitol Connections Quarterly Magazine. She also took classes at a Virginia community college.
During the summer of 1973, the 19-year-old was attending a party when she caught the eye of a young University of Notre Dame student.
After a three-year courtship, Bob McDonnell proposed over a four-pack of "cheap ale" in a grocery store parking lot, his wife told the Washington Post.
"It was very simple," she said in the 2010 interview. "Our life always was."
Bob McDonnell joined the Army, and the couple married in 1976 at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia.
McDonnell's career as a medical supply officer carried them to West Germany and back to Virginia, where Maureen gave birth to their first of five children, Jeanine, in 1981.
After graduating law school, Bob McDonnell worked his way up in the Virginia Beach commonwealth's attorney's office. In 1991, he won a tight election to the House of Delegates.
Even as her husband's clout grew, Maureen remained thrifty, friends have said. The couple lived in middle-class neighborhoods in suburban Virginia Beach filled with one-story brick homes and traditional two-story colonials that are within earshot of Navy fighter jets roaring overhead. Their children attended public schools. If the kids wanted luxuries, they had to work for them. Jeanine mucked out stalls to pay for horseback-riding lessons, Maureen told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Robyn Deane says her former sister-in-law sold everything from vitamin supplements and skin-care products to home decorating items and teddy bears with Bible verses sewn on their chests.
"She was very much the enthusiastic entrepreneur," Deane told The Associated Press.
A one-time cheerleader for the NFL's Washington Redskins, Maureen brought her enthusiasm to promoting her husband's political career. She was a big part of his successful 2005 campaign for Virginia attorney general and played a crucial role four years later in his quest for the state's highest office, appearing in ads, using her rusty Spanish to court Latino voters and rallying women at campaign events.
Bob McDonnell's relationship with Jonnie Williams dates to March 2009 when, the federal indictment alleges, members of his staff asked about using Williams' jet in the gubernatorial campaign. But it was a postelection meeting in New York City that prosecutors say began the soon-to-be first lady's too-cozy relationship with Williams.
Williams, the Post reported, mentioned that he was friends with designer Oscar de la Renta. When Maureen McDonnell asked for help finding a dress for the inauguration, the indictment alleges, Williams offered to buy her one.
"I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget," she wrote in an email to one of her husband's senior staffers. "I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I'm charging up in credit card debt. We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!! "
Staffers convinced her that such a gift would be inappropriate but, according to prosecutors, she told Williams "that she would take a 'rain check' from him."